Currently Displaying: equity and protection26 Posts. 3 Pages.












ngq, you sexy beast! Here is a sanity check for that clean meta. ;)

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                    [post_date] => 2020-09-21 14:42:51
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A paper in Lancet highlights growing concerns over COVID-19 and underlying comorbidities. Major disruptions in essential non-communicable disease care have been reported by 75% of countries, as public health campaigns and NCD surveillance efforts are also impacted. This has raised alarms, particularly as chronic conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases are both drivers of and exacerbated by COVID-19. One recent study in JAMA Cardiology, for example, shows how individuals recovering from the virus develop myocarditis, while 78% of participants had evidence of prior heart inflammation. The NCD Alliance suggests that the concern between COVID-19 and NCDs could be country-specific. Pointing to investments in chronic disease prevention and treatment measures by countries like Jamaica, Jordan and South Africa, the control of NCDs should in this way also be part of pandemic preparedness.

The WHO Director for the Americas last month also warned that COVID-19 is undermining efforts to eliminate and control other infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, TB and Hepatitis. Upwards of 80% of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean reported challenges, as manageable cases risk becoming active infections. Decline in the number of people being tested is also obscuring the true picture of what is happening with the diseases, as health systems are urged to leverage telemedicine and provide care outside of hospital settings, such as in community outreach programs or home visits. Spikes in cases in Peru have meanwhile led to escalating unrest over demands for economic aid.

[post_title] => The Coronavirus Comorbidity Crisis & Progress Against Infectious Diseases [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => the-coronavirus-comorbidity-crisis-progress-against-infectious-diseases [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-09-21 14:42:51 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-09-21 18:42:51 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://covid19.dighr.org/developments/the-coronavirus-comorbidity-crisis-progress-against-infectious-diseases [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => development [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 2834 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2020-09-21 14:41:51 [post_date_gmt] => 2020-09-21 18:41:51 [post_content] =>

With 17% of the world’s population, countries in Africa account for only 4% of reported cases and 3% of COVID-related deaths globally. Researchers have not been able to explain what the WHO Regional Director for Africa described as a “slow burn” in early August despite the continent surpassing one million cases. Various hypotheses are being explored, including the continent’s youthful population, the possibility of a certain degree of ‘herd immunity’ from past exposure to other coronaviruses, or a lack of adequate disease surveillance.

Two studies published this month, however, suggest that Africa’s infection rate may be significantly higher than the official figures. The South African Medical Research Council, reviewing mortality trends, recorded over 41,000 “excess deaths” between May 6 and August 25, 2020 compared to last year, indicating a steeper pandemic trajectory. The researchers also reported that 40% of pregnant women as well as people with HIV/AIDS that visited public health facilities in Cape Town had SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. In another study, blood samples of Kenyan blood donors tested between in the first two weeks of May found that 5.6% had antibodies for COVID-19, while almost 10% of donors in Mombasa were positive, significantly higher than Kenya’s official infection rate at the time (2093 cases, 71 deaths).

With almost half of all cases, South Africa remains a particular concern, as the WHO earlier this month dispatched a surge team to support pandemic response efforts in the country. Additional resources have been deployed in other countries as the burden of infections spreads beyond major cities to rural areas, increasing the need for decentralized testing, tracing, isolation, and treatment beyond urban hubs.

The continent’s pandemic response funding gap is expected to exceed US$100 billion annually over the next three years. So far, the World Bank, the IMF and the African Development Bank have disbursed about US$60 billion to countries in Africa. That sum is slightly lower than the estimated $65 billion monthly cost of lockdowns, as the IMF projects economic activity in Sub-Saharan Africa to contract by 3.2% this year alone. Many of these developing economies will need significant capital bases to frontload pandemic preparedness and response capacity, as multilateral development banks and the international community have been urged to take bold, innovative, and expeditious action. Among the proposals is another replenishment round for the World Bank’s International Development Association, as well as new allocations of the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights that currently exceed US$129 billion.

[post_title] => Africa Surpasses One Million Cases as Pandemic Expands to Rural Areas [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => africa-surpasses-one-million-cases-as-pandemic-expands-to-rural-areas [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-09-21 14:41:51 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-09-21 18:41:51 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://covid19.dighr.org/developments/africa-surpasses-one-million-cases-as-pandemic-expands-to-rural-areas [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => development [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 2384 [post_author] => 3 [post_date] => 2020-07-21 11:24:55 [post_date_gmt] => 2020-07-21 15:24:55 [post_content] =>
  • The World Food Programme has identified 25 ‘hotspots’ where acute hunger is reached devastating levels. Most of the countries stretch between West and East Africa, while vulnerable populations in Latin American and Middle Eastern countries, where the pandemic has exacerbated income losses, disrupted supply chains that contributed to surging food prices. The WFP and FAO previously estimated that food security could increase by 81% this year to almost 270 million people. Every 1% rise in acute hunger also contributes to a 2% increase in refugee outflows, which further threaten vulnerable populations as well as regional stability. The UN released an updated COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan last week, with the $4.9 billion WFP response accounting for nearly half of the sum, and an additional $500 million special provision for the 25 hotspots most at risk of famine.
  • A new study in PLoS Medicine shows that combining severe and moderate acute malnutrition treatments into a simplified protocol could be as effective as traditional treatment while saving $123 per child. The ‘Combined Protocol for Acute Malnutrition Study’ was conducted by LSHTM, the International Rescue Committee and Action Against Hunger, and found that the combined protocol was 76.3% effective at promoting nutritional recovery, which is slightly better than the 73.5% for standard treatment. With 50 million children currently not receiving malnutrition treatment, the efficacy and cost savings could translate into program expansions, with three million child deaths a year are linked to malnutrition.
[post_title] => COVID-19 is Pushing Countries ‘Closer to the Abyss’ of Famine, WFP [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => covid-19-is-pushing-countries-closer-to-the-abyss-of-famine-wfp [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-11-03 09:33:17 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-11-03 14:33:17 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://covid19.dighr.org/developments/covid-19-is-pushing-countries-closer-to-the-abyss-of-famine-wfp/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => development [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 2383 [post_author] => 3 [post_date] => 2020-07-21 11:23:55 [post_date_gmt] => 2020-07-21 15:23:55 [post_content] =>
  • The UN released an updated COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan, doubling its appeal to $10.3 billion, more than 80% of which would support responses in 63 low-income countries. Another $1.8 billion would be directed for ‘global requirements’, transport of aid workers and supplies accounting for $1 billion, with a further $300 million allocated directly for NGOs and $500 million for 25 ‘hotspots’ most at risk of famine. The UN Emergency Response Coordinatorwent on to warn that the pandemic and the associated global recession are about to wreak havoc in fragile states, while describe the response by wealthier countries as “grossly inadequate and dangerously short-sighted.”
  • The timely and directed appeal comes as G20 Finance Ministers and heads of central banks are set to meet virtually this coming Saturday. An estimated $11 trillion in stimulus packages have been appropriated by G20 countries as part of an unprecedented economic response, representing 10% of global GDP. To protect the most vulnerable 10% of the world across 32 low-income countries would meanwhile cost less than $90 billion, which is less than 1% of domestic stimulus packages by wealthier countries. The UN Emergency Response Coordinator contrasted the solidarity and international coordination in the aftermath of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, particularly highlighting the need to reinforce and reassert the role of the IMF and World Bank in supporting lower income countries.
[post_title] => International Pandemic Response ‘Grossly inadequate and dangerously short-sighted’ [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => international-pandemic-response-grossly-inadequate-and-dangerously-short-sighted [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-11-03 09:33:17 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-11-03 14:33:17 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://covid19.dighr.org/developments/international-pandemic-response-grossly-inadequate-and-dangerously-short-sighted/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => development [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 2382 [post_author] => 3 [post_date] => 2020-07-21 11:22:55 [post_date_gmt] => 2020-07-21 15:22:55 [post_content] =>
  • During the Sustainable Development Goals progress review meeting over the weekend, the UN Secretary General issued one of his strongest rebukes of the international community for systemic inequities that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed. In a significant departure from his traditional diplomatic tone, the Mandela Day speech by the UN head noted the many “myths, delusions, and falsehoods” around international progress on equality. Among the examples he listed was the “lie that free markets can deliver healthcare for all. The fiction that unpaid care work is not work, the delusion that we live in a post-racist world, the myth that we are all in the same boat.” He went on to call for a “New Social Contract” with commitment of renewed and inclusive multilateralism, while urging for fundamental reforms to the UN Security Council, the IMF, and the World Bank.
  • Humanitarian response locations remain a particular cause for concern, including in sub-Saharan Africa which is home to over 26% of the world’s refugees. Ongoing conflicts and persistent attacks have led to the closure of hundreds of health facilities, including in Mali and Burkina Faso where 1.5 million people are left without adequate health care. During its Monday media briefing, the WHO cited a recent study by Oxford University highlights the risk of conflict on outbreaks, identifying 63 fragile countries currently facing unrest and conflict in the background of the COVID-19 pandemic, while additional 13 countries are projected to experience new conflicts over the next two years. The study further estimates that the average cost to host and neighbouring countries for a civil war is about $60 billion, while 100 million could be pushed into extreme poverty and 130 million face starvation.
[post_title] => ‘Myths, Delusions, and Falsehoods’ of Progress on Equality, UN Chief [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => myths-delusions-and-falsehoods-of-progress-on-equality-un-chief [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-11-03 09:33:17 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-11-03 14:33:17 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://covid19.dighr.org/developments/myths-delusions-and-falsehoods-of-progress-on-equality-un-chief/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => development [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 2007 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2020-06-10 22:21:09 [post_date_gmt] => 2020-06-22 02:21:09 [post_content] =>
  • As countries eagerly hope to end the lockdowns that have decimated national economies, one idea that has gained traction is the issuance of immunity passports to those that have either tested negative or recovered from COVID-19. In Nature, however, an article this week outlines four practical challenges and six ethical objections to immunity passports:
    1. Unclear whether recovered patients develop immunity to future exposure to virus.
    2. Serological testing for antibodies remains unreliable (low specificity and specificity).
    3. No country has sufficient serological testing capacity (minimum of two per person).
    4. Only a small fraction of the population would be certified (e.g. less than 0.5% of the U.S. population based on current number of confirmed cases).
    5. Systems to monitor immunity will erode privacy and increase the risk of forgery.
    6. Marginalized communities will be disproportionately impacted, including profiling and potential harms to racial, sexual, religious or other minority groups.
    7. Unfair access due to testing shortages and systemic inequities.
    8. Create further inequity between immuno-privileged and vulnerable communities.
    9. Could open the possibility for discrimination on the basis of other health information (e.g. mental health status, genetic tests) by employers, insurers, or law enforcement.
    10. Can lead to perverse incentives, e.g. if social and economic liberties are only granted to people who recover from COVID-19.
[post_title] => Immunity Passports: 10 practical challenges and ethical objections [post_excerpt] => As countries eagerly hope to end the lockdowns that have decimated national economies, one idea that has gained [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => immunity-passports-10-practical-challenges-and-ethical-objections [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-11-03 09:33:18 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-11-03 14:33:18 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://covid19.dighr.org/developments/immunity-passports-10-practical-challenges-and-ethical-objections/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => development [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 2006 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2020-06-10 22:20:09 [post_date_gmt] => 2020-06-22 02:20:09 [post_content] =>

The WHO and UNHCR signed an agreement to strengthen partnerships and operational capacities that focus on improving access to health services for some 70 million forcibly displaced people around the world from COVID-19. The poorest countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America are facing pandemic-induced economic and public-health emergencies that demand immediate action. G20 leaders therefore must agree now on measures to prevent the current recession from deepening, and to mitigate its impact on the world’s most vulnerable people. We are at a critical moment, because the poorest countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America are facing economic and public-health emergencies that demand immediate action.

[post_title] => A call to protect vulnerable populations from COVID-19 [post_excerpt] => The WHO and UNHCR signed an agreement to strengthen partnerships and operational capacities that focus on improving access [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => a-call-to-protect-vulnerable-populations-from-covid-19 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-11-03 09:33:18 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-11-03 14:33:18 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://covid19.dighr.org/developments/a-call-to-protect-vulnerable-populations-from-covid-19/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => development [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 2001 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2020-06-10 22:15:09 [post_date_gmt] => 2020-06-22 02:15:09 [post_content] =>

According to the latest report by UNDP, global human development is projected to decline for the first time since the UN defined and began measuring the concept in 1990. Unlike other crises over the past three decades, the “triple hit to health, education and income” as a result of COVID-19 has been reported globally. The UNDP warns that developing countries that are less able to cope with the pandemic’s social and economic fallout remain acutely vulnerable.

The report urges countries to focus on equity in order to limit these impacts. Closing the digital divide by providing more equitable internet access, for example, is estimated to cost less than 1% of the fiscal support packages but could result in a two-thirds reduction of the impact of school closures that currently leave 60% of children globally without access to education.

[post_title] => The pandemic is a magnifying glass for inequalities [post_excerpt] => According to the latest report by UNDP, global human development is projected to decline for the first time [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => the-pandemic-is-a-magnifying-glass-for-inequalities [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-11-03 09:33:18 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-11-03 14:33:18 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://covid19.dighr.org/developments/the-pandemic-is-a-magnifying-glass-for-inequalities/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => development [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 2000 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2020-06-10 22:14:09 [post_date_gmt] => 2020-06-22 02:14:09 [post_content] =>

The ongoing global protests against police brutality in the United States and the structural racism that enables it, remind us that racism is detrimental, and deadly. As such, racism and structural manifestations are a major public health concern and compound with other issues like COVID-19 to magnify negative impacts on dignity, and on morbidity and mortality.

A recent study by the U.K. Government shows how the risk of death from COVID-19 for ethnic minorities is 10-50% higher risk. The WHO expressed support of the global movement and clarified that attending a mass gathering did not necessarily require more restrictive measures. Instead, WHO officials urged protesters to follow local guidelines in maintaining safe practices, including physical distancing, masks and hand washing.

[post_title] => There is no stopping COVID-19 without addressing structural violence and racism [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => there-is-no-stopping-covid-19-without-addressing-structural-violence-and-racism [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-11-03 09:33:18 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-11-03 14:33:18 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://covid19.dighr.org/developments/there-is-no-stopping-covid-19-without-addressing-structural-violence-and-racism/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => development [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 2472 [post_author] => 3 [post_date] => 2020-05-28 08:06:20 [post_date_gmt] => 2020-05-28 12:06:20 [post_content] =>

As countries eagerly hope to end the lockdowns that have decimated national economies, one idea that has gained traction is the issuance of immunity passports to those that have either tested negative or recovered from COVID-19. In Nature, however, an article this week outlines four practical challenges and six ethical objections to immunity passports:

  1. Unclear whether recovered patients develop immunity to future exposure to virus.
  2. Serological testing for antibodies remains unreliable (low specificity and specificity).
  3. No country has sufficient serological testing capacity (minimum of two per person).
  4. Only a small fraction of the population would be certified (e.g. less than 0.5% of the U.S. population based on current number of confirmed cases).
  5. Systems to monitor immunity will erode privacy and increase the risk of forgery.
  6. Marginalized communities will be disproportionately impacted, including profiling and potential harms to racial, sexual, religious or other minority groups.
  7. Unfair access due to testing shortages and systemic inequities.
  8. Create further inequity between immuno-privileged and vulnerable communities.
  9. Could open the possibility for discrimination on the basis of other health information (e.g. mental health status, genetic tests) by employers, insurers, or law enforcement.
  10. Can lead to perverse incentives, e.g. if social and economic liberties are only granted to people who recover from COVID-19.
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The WHO and UNHCR signed an agreement to strengthen partnerships and operational capacities that focus on improving access to health services for some 70 million forcibly displaced people around the world from COVID-19.

The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect also issued an appeal to the UN Security Council urging greater protection of civilians in conflict-affected countries. The joint letter, endorsed by dozens of leading global civil society organizations, notes the unprecedented challenges vulnerable and at-risk communities face in a growing number of humanitarian response locations. It also calls on the Security Council to reaffirm and enforce international humanitarian law, calls on practical steps and financial mechanisms, and a whole-of-society and whole-of-UN approach to prevent, respond to and mitigate the impact of COVID-19.

Physicians for Human Rights have also issued a letter that challenges the public health basis for the U.S. CDC’s announcement of indefinite extension of border shutdowns. The letter argues that this policy is driven by immigration politics rather than public health based on an expert review, which warned that this measure needlessly targets and exposes this vulnerable group based on their immigration status, contrary to U.S. law.

Hidden risks of COVID-19: violence against women and girls

UN Women published a report based on a rapid assessment to understand the impact of COVID-19 on violence against women and girls and service provision. The synthesis is based on data collection from government and civil society partners in 49 countries, highlighting the increasing prevalence of gender-based violence that often go unreported. UN Women also released an accompanying pocket tool that provides practical guidelines for gender-responsive evaluation management and data collection, structured around the four main evaluation phases: planning, preparation, conduct, and reporting and follow-up. In a separate article, researchers draw attention to the escalating global crisis in access to reproductive health.

Webinars

Future Strategy Forum: COVID-19 and Grand Strategy (CSIS) | Wednesday, June 3 (1-2pm EST)

Global crises, local action: a humanitarian reset in response to COVID-19 (ODI) | Wednesday, June 3 (6:30pm EST)

Humanitarian Operations During COVID-19: A Conversation with UNHCR (CSIS) | Monday, June 8 (9:30 am EST)

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Compounding Crises of COVID-19 and Super Cyclone in India and Bangladesh

The strongest cyclone ever recorded in the Bay of Bangal (with maximum sustained winds up to 265km/h) is expected to hit India and Bangladesh on Wednesday. Millions of people are being forced to evacuate north-east India, while only 12,000 shelters have been prepared in Bangladesh to house the nearly five million people in the expected path of Cyclone Amphan. The impact is likely to be hardest on those living in low-lying flood prone coastal areas, as the Needs Assessment Working Group of Bangladesh estimates that up to 14.2 million people in coastal districts are likely to be affected, displacing 1.4 million people and damaging up to 600,000 houses.

Vulnerable communities affected by COVID-19 outbreaks and lockdown will also likely be impacted, including the approximately 1.2 million Rohingya refugees that live in over-crowded camps in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. In collaboration with humanitarian partners, including UNICEF and UNHCR, the IOM is constructing a COVID-19 treatment centre in Cox’s Bazar along with cyclone preparedness effort (alerting the community, reinforcing critical infrastructure and prepositioning emergency items before the cyclone makes landfall).

COVID needs in Humanitarian Emergency Settings

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees made an appeal for US$745 million for preparedness and response to outbreaks of COVID-19 among the more than 71 million refugees and forcibly displaced people that remain acutely vulnerable. While no major outbreaks have been reported in large refugee and IDP settlements, UNHCR is rapidly scaling up efforts in 134 refugee-hosting countries that are reporting local transmission. There is also widespread evidence of deep economic impacts on refugees, as 70% of refugees surveyed admitted to skipping meals, and this is most acute among refugee women.

Médecins Sans Frontières has outlined five key priorities for the international community in order to protect migrants and vulnerable populations in humanitarian response locations. These include:

  1. Ensuring COVID-19 is not used as an excuse to enforce restrictive migration control policies and evade international obligations towards refugees, asylum seekers and migrants;
  2. Governments must not use COVID-19 emergency measures to target refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, and measures should be proportionate and limited in duration, respect human dignity, and based on scientific evidence and not applied arbitrarily;
  3. Lockdowns and mass quarantining cannot be cut-and-pasted or discriminatorily applied;
  4. Direct humanitarian evacuation corridors for displaced people at risk (including people above 60 years and those with respiratory conditions, diabetes, or other health complications); and
  5. Safeguarding access to healthcare for all (ensuring border closures do not prevent the mobility of people, essential supplies and aid workers, particularly in humanitarian response locations).

EU is Creating Humanitarian Air Bridges to enable the COVID-19 Response

The European Commission has allocated 10 million Euro to support a humanitarian air bridge amid travel shutdowns. In the absence of commercial air travel, the air bridge will allow humanitarian staff and supplies to be delivered across 30 routes deemed important for the COVID-19 response, with the first flight launched last week from France to the Central African Republic with 60 humanitarian workers and 13 metric tons of humanitarian cargo.

Build Back Better After COVID-19

The International Recovery Platform developed a toolkit of existing guidelines and tools to support countries and communities when they are ready to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. It supports recovering communities to “build back better” towards more resilient health systems, economies, and more just societies. The Compendium of Tools and Guidelines are organized according to four categories: Health Sector Recovery; Private Sector and Livelihood Recovery; Inclusive Recovery; and Disaster Recovery Governance. The IRP is a joint initiative of UN, international finance institutions, national and local governments, and NGOs engaged in disaster recovery and sustainable development.

A paper commissioned by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency provides analysis and guidance on to inform the design, implementation and adaptation of conflict sensitive humanitarian and development responses to COVID-19.

Lancet Papers Decry the lack of Ethical global leadership on health inequities around COVID-19

A paper in the Lancet calls for greater ethical global leadership on health inequities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The authors reference widespread reports of the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on vulnerable communities around the world, while pointing to “unconscionable stockpiling by wealthy countries” and even attempts to extract profits from the crisis through economic speculation.

Another paper in the same issue highlights how social inequalities in health profoundly, and unevenly, impacting COVID-19 morbidity and mortality. Among the social determinants of health, the authors identify emerging findings on the correlation of the pandemic with poverty (including homelessness), physical environment, and race or ethnicity. The paper also notes how physical distancing measures are significantly more difficult for vulnerable and marginalized populations, while school closures have increased food insecurity for children living in poverty, exacerbating physical and mental health. The authors urge policymakers to emphasize the mitigation of social determinants, including improving housing and reducing overcrowding as well as improving access to health services and income support. The paper also calls on social determinants of health to be an essential part of pandemic research priorities, public health goals, and policy implementation.

Preventing a COVID-19 Related Global Food Crisis

  • The Food and Agriculture Organization made an appeal for US$350 million to scale up efforts to address hunger and livelihood-boosting efforts in contexts vulnerable to food crisis. As part of the broader UN Global Humanitarian COVID-19 Plan, the appeal will include supporting farmers’ access to fields, seeds and other inputs to plant or buy feed for their animals in order to avoid the cascading impacts of missing planting seasons such as drops in output. The FAO also advocates proactive efforts for stronger emergency livelihoods interventions to avoid famines.
  • The WEF also reports how the pandemic has amplified the risk of worldwide food-price spikes, urging greater coordination across governments to avert disruptions to food supply chains, including through food protectionism. While lockdowns have led to a collapse in demand for discretionary goods and services, the opposite is true of food as panic buying and food hoarding has proliferated. On the supply side, global grain stockpiles could be quickly depleted as the virus disrupts production and distribution, compounded by the worst locust outbreak in 70 years that have left countries in East Africa acutely vulnerable. In Kenya, for example, the price of staple foods has risen by 60% since last year.
  • ICRISAT published a new report that outlines four key strategies to protect the lives and livelihoods of farming communities in Eastern and Southern Africa. These include:
    1. Diversification of farming systems for improved resilience and profitability (including technologies suitable for sustainable intensification);
    2. Enhancing access to seed at scale of grain legumes and dryland cereals (through community seed banks that also supports grain aggregation);
    3. Building capacity of partners to promote technologies in a participatory manner (including governments, community organizations, local leaders and women); and
    4. Gender integration and empowerment to engage actively in agribusinesses (including livelihood-strengthening activities like climate-smart agriculture)

CommunityFirst COVID-19 Roadmap

This week, SeeChange Initiative and Ilisaqsivik Society, in partnership with the Association of Médicos Sin Fronteras in Latin America, and the Dahdaleh Institute, launched the CommunityFirst COVID-19 Roadmap, a planning tool to empower communities in developing local strategies to organize, prepare and respond to COVID-19. The Roadmap is available in English, Spanish and Inuktitut, and also includes an Emergency Readiness Checklist. Last month, the Executive Director of SeeChange and a Steering Committee member of the CommunityFirst Roadmap published an article in the Lancet on local efforts among Inuit communities to address COVID-19 and TB. The role of community-based responses to the pandemic was also highlighted in STAT.

Webinar Resources

  1. COVID-19 in Humanitarian Setting: Magnifying Gender Inequalities? (JHU)
    • Wednesday, May 20, 2020 (8-9am EST)
  2. Digital Solutions to Covid-19 and Urban Challenges in Sub-Saharan Africa (CSIS)
    • Thursday, May 21, 2020 (9-10am EST)
  3. Humanitarian Operations During Covid-19: A Conversation with UNHCR (CSIS)
    • Monday, June 8, 2020 (9:30-10:15am EST)
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A paper in Lancet highlights growing concerns over COVID-19 and underlying comorbidities. Major disruptions in essential non-communicable disease care have been reported by 75% of countries, as public health campaigns and NCD surveillance efforts are also impacted. This has raised alarms, particularly as chronic conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases are both drivers of and exacerbated by COVID-19. One recent study in JAMA Cardiology, for example, shows how individuals recovering from the virus develop myocarditis, while 78% of participants had evidence of prior heart inflammation. The NCD Alliance suggests that the concern between COVID-19 and NCDs could be country-specific. Pointing to investments in chronic disease prevention and treatment measures by countries like Jamaica, Jordan and South Africa, the control of NCDs should in this way also be part of pandemic preparedness.

The WHO Director for the Americas last month also warned that COVID-19 is undermining efforts to eliminate and control other infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, TB and Hepatitis. Upwards of 80% of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean reported challenges, as manageable cases risk becoming active infections. Decline in the number of people being tested is also obscuring the true picture of what is happening with the diseases, as health systems are urged to leverage telemedicine and provide care outside of hospital settings, such as in community outreach programs or home visits. Spikes in cases in Peru have meanwhile led to escalating unrest over demands for economic aid.

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