The members of WAITRO, our unique and diverse family, share the struggle against COVID-19, and the dread of social and economic repercussions to come. But we must ensure that our strength is maximised through an understanding of vastly differing challenges that members face across the globe. COVID-19 has given our world a social, scientific and economic stress test. Much has been found wanting and many have found themselves stranded, isolated and alone. This crisis has unlocked a grave and multi-dimensional developmental challenge that has fed on so many existing deficiencies in our uneven world. At its most basic, it has highlighted that networks are only as strong as the communications platforms that underpin them.
WAITRO has done so much to build its position as a major global network for funded research collaborations. We have all been proud to contribute to, and benefit from, an increasingly innovative and integrative approach to capacity development, not least through SAIRA. However, if we are to carry our mission forward, and fully enable action-oriented partnerships among our diverse and driven member organizations, then we must take a broader view of capacity-building needs. Our current crisis has emphasised that those who are less connected, less digitally agile, and less able to engage in virtual discussion with ease and security, will be left behind. But we all now know, if we didn’t before, that our challenges are shared, and progress can only be enjoyed by all together.
We cannot ignore the weak links in the chain. The challenges we face now, and in the months to come, will demand responses that are novel in both design and implementation. Good science and broad collaborative research must inform and empower good policies as we respond to COVID-19 and its ramifications. Let us ensure that WAITRO is the champion that it deserves to be. So many of our current and future challenges are and will be shared and our responses must be equal to times in which we live.