Currently Displaying: equity and protection24 Posts. 2 Pages.












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

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  • 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] => 2020-08-13 22:23:02 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-08-14 02:23:02 [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 ) [1] => 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] => 2020-08-13 22:23:02 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-08-14 02:23:02 [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 ) [2] => 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] => 2020-08-13 22:23:02 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-08-14 02:23:02 [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 ) [3] => 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] => 2020-07-30 14:16:11 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-07-30 18:16:11 [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 ) [4] => 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] => 2020-07-30 14:46:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-07-30 18:46:27 [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 ) [5] => 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] => 2020-07-30 14:46:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-07-30 18:46:27 [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 ) [6] => 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] => 2020-08-13 22:23:59 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-08-14 02:23:59 [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 ) [7] => 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.
[post_title] => Immunity Passports: 10 practical challenges and ethical objections [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => immunity-passports-10-practical-challenges-and-ethical-objections-2 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-08-13 22:29:04 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-08-14 02:29:04 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://covid19.dighr.org/developments/immunity-passports-10-practical-challenges-and-ethical-objections-2/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => development [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 1996 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2020-05-28 08:02:20 [post_date_gmt] => 2020-05-27 12:02:20 [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 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)

[post_title] => A call to arms to protect vulnerable populations from COVID-19 [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => a-call-to-arms-to-protect-vulnerable-populations-from-covid-19 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-08-13 22:29:04 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-08-14 02:29:04 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://covid19.dighr.org/developments/a-call-to-arms-to-protect-vulnerable-populations-from-covid-19/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => development [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 2010 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2020-05-24 09:04:54 [post_date_gmt] => 2020-05-20 13:03:54 [post_content] =>

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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The growing pandemic funding gap

The gap between donor commitments and the funding needed to respond to the pandemic continues to grow. As the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs tripled its appeal last week to US$6.7 billion, they admit to only receiving US$1 billion towards its initial request for US$2 billion. That includes a mere $65 million contribution from the U.S. that a senator described as “unconscionable,” while the Washington Post reports the US$3 trillion COVID-19 bill introduced by Democrats this past week contains no funding for international assistance. Germany and France likewise agreed to support a 500 billion Euro aid package to support E.U. countries with recovery from the pandemic.

NGOs such as the International Rescue Committee argue that much of the aid is stuck within multilateral channels, as humanitarian funding to front-line NGOs accounts for only 2% of commitments under the UN Global Humanitarian Response Plan.

The global economy is shrinking, and 130 million people may be pushed into extreme poverty

Global economic output is expected to drop by 3.5% in 2020, and by US$8.5 trillion over the next two years as a result of the pandemic. The UN World Economic Situation and Prospects report warns that an additional 34 million people could fall below the extreme poverty line by the end of this year. The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs did “not anticipate (the global economy) would dive as quickly as it did” amidst the sharpest economic contraction since the Great Depression. The report projects that by 2030, an estimated 130 million will be pushed into extreme poverty. Africa is expected to absorb 56% of the rise in poverty, in part due to limited economic and social protection measures as well as debt burdens.

In the World Economic Forum’s weforum.org, the Dean of the Wharton Business School projects that COVID-19 would also reverse trends in globalization and urbanization. The resulting compression of the global economy, he predicts, will be further impacted by reduction in international cooperation and increased likelihood of international conflict.

250 million Africans could be infected, with up to 190,000 dead by years’ end

Modelling by the WHO predicts that nearly a quarter of a billion people across 47 African countries will be infected with the Coronavirus, with as many as 190,000 projected mortalities by year’s end, according to a study to be published in BMJ Global Health. While African countries may experience fewer severe cases and deaths per capita due to younger populations and lower obesity rates, health system capacity gaps and disruptions in maternal and child health could result in additional deaths.=

ODI calls for increased solidarity to support developing countries

The Overseas Development Institute estimates that the economic impacts of the pandemic to sub-Saharan Africa remain uncertain but will likely exceed $100 billion. While many countries have imposed stringent measures to contain the spread of the virus, there are immediate and long-term concerns about the lag in economic and social protection measures as governments face major liquidity and fiscal constraints. Since much of the global economic dislocation stems from decisions to protect citizens in wealthier countries, the ODI calls for increased international solidarity to support developing countries. That can include special drawing rights to address capital outflows, moratoria on debt service repayments, development finance to provide liquidity to protect employment, as well as non-concessional lending and economic resource packages as aid.

Rising Inequity Gap

The IMF warns that COVID-19 could widen the inequality gap between rich and poor across and within countries, urging policymakers to put in place risk-sharing and social assistance mechanisms to protect the most vulnerable from economic impacts. Using past pandemics as a guide, the analysis shows net increases in Gini coefficient (a measure of inequity within a country) after five years as well as long-term impacts due to job loss and other shocks to income (e.g. lower remittances). To minimize long-term damage (or “scarring”) to the livelihoods of vulnerable communities – and improve resilience to future shocks (including the effects of climate change), the IMF urges countries to consider a range of measures including:

  1. Access to sick leave, unemployment benefits, and health benefits;
  2. A “New Deal,” particularly in countries where the employment sector is largely informal and where social protection systems are limited; and
  3. Expanding social assistance systems, introducing new transfers, boosting public work programs, and progressive tax measures.

“Nothing lays bare inequality and discrimination like a disaster”

In a forceful address on the human rights dimensions of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction highlighted the disproportionate impact on marginalized and vulnerable populations, amplifying social inequities, forced displacement as well as gender- based violence. The central message was that the international community “must do more.” This includes treating persons at risk as people with human rights and not just as beneficiaries of humanitarian actions, who are consulted in decision-making relevant to their lives, and to foster greater resilience by focusing on the drivers of disaster risk, including poverty, lack of international solidarity and pandemic preparedness, and increasing frequency and magnitude of extreme weather events.

‘Donor states can and must do more’

According to a Devex survey of development professionals, two thirds say donors are not doing enough to respond to the Coronavirus. The UN estimates that US$500 billion will be needed to address the pandemic in developing countries, as Oxfam urged 30 donors of the OECD Development Assistance Committee to contribute $300 billion. In addition to more funding, development experts point to three other steps donors should take:

  1. Simplified funding mechanisms for a faster response;
  2. Clarity and transparency on decisions; and
  3. Looking beyond the immediate needs, including longer-term impacts of COVID-19 and what preparation is needed now to respond to those.
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“Impartial, independent, and comprehensive evaluation”

For the first time in the WHO’s history, its annual World Health Assembly (WHA) was entirely virtual. With a focus almost entirely on the Coronavirus pandemic, the condensed two-day meeting was preceded by three weeks of intense negotiations.

The most significant outcome this year was the adoption of a COVID-19 resolution that was proposed by the European Union and supported by 120 countries that contained three major elements (A73/CONF/1), including an “impartial, independent, and comprehensive evaluation (of the) international health response to COVID-19.” In the closing remarks, the WHO Director General affirmed that the review would take place “as soon as possible.”

Rising geopolitical tensions shape emergent Global Health institutions and practices

The WHA opened with a failed motion to grant Taiwan Observer status, underscoring growing tensions in part arising from accusations by the U.S. (and shared by other Western and Pacific Asian countries) that China was not transparent in the early days of the pandemic.

In a letter, the U.S. President threatened to permanently eliminate the funding that was temporarily withdrawn from the WHO, suggesting the U.S. would pursue bilateral aid channels including US$500 million to 40 ‘at risk’ countries. The President of China addressed the Assembly directly pledging US$2 billion over the next two years to support COVID-19 response efforts in developing countries, and an ambition to establish China as a “global humanitarian response capital and hub.” Focusing on African countries in particular, President Xi referenced debt suspension initiatives, building “green corridors” to accelerate delivery of essential goods as well as partnering with 30 major hospitals in Africa to build a China Centres for Disease Control headquarters on the continent.

‘No monopolies on access’ to COVID treatments and vaccines in a pandemic

The negotiations on access to treatments and future vaccines were far more divisive. Led by Costa Rica, developing countries and civil society organizations expressed particular concern about ensuring equitable access, including to COVID-related knowledge, lessons learned, experience, and best practices. The WHO Secretariat will have until May 29 to develop a framework for a voluntary COIVD-19 Intellectual Property Pool for patents and clinical trial data, while the EU-led resolution also references WTO TRIPS flexibilities allowing countries to override patents to ensure access.

COVID is a ‘wake-up call to our global fragility’

In his address to the World Health Assembly, the UN Secretary General called for greater unity and solidarity along three dimensions: a coordinated and comprehensive health response guided by the WHO and focusing on developing countries; policies to address the social and economic dimensions of the COVID crisis; and a response and recovery plan based on equity, inclusion and sustainability centred on human rights. Given the unprecedented nature of the pandemic, some civil society organizations such as South Centre expressed disappointment in the lack of ambition of the COVID-19 resolution. Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) likewise referred to the “typical watered down, lawyered ambiguity” of the final draft that fails to limit legal monopolies that could affect access (they noted that other proposals like Canada’s would have called for “universal and non-exclusive and open-licensing” that referenced data sharing and more expansive mandate beyond existing mechanisms).

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  • 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.
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