THE former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has warned that a “second or third wave” of the coronavirus could start in the poorest countries if nations fail to “act globally”.
In a foreword to a report, released on Thursday by Christian Aid, Tipping Point: How the Covid-19 pandemic threatens to push the world’s poorest to the brink of survival, Mr Brown writes: “Seventy-five years after VE Day, it is more critical than ever that in another global crisis we rediscover how we can work together to make this world a safer, more connected and a far fairer place. Today, we face a global medical emergency, and we cannot end the coronavirus pandemic unless it is eradicated in every continent.
“It is in all our interests to prevent a second or third wave starting in the poorest, least protected countries with the most underdeveloped health systems. So a threat to others is a threat to us, and we help ourselves by helping others. Protecting ourselves locally means we need to act globally.”
Released in conjunction with Christian Aid Week, the report focuses on four countries that serve as examples of the challenges brought by the pandemic to some of the poorest places in the world, as well as three recommendations for policy-makers.
The four countries are Sierra Leone, where the impact of Ebola has left it with a crippled health care system which the debt-burdened government cannot finance to tackle Covid-19; Bangladesh, where displaced Rohingya have been forced into cramped and filthy refugee camps, with little access to sanitation; South Sudan, where hunger, displacement, and a lack of access to healthcare have meant that there are only four ventilators between 11 million people; and the occupied Palestinian territories, where the coronavirus has caused the economy to take a further hit, having already been crippled by the embargo from Israel and Egypt.
The actions that Christian Aid proposes include the recognition by leaders in the Global North of how essential faith-based actors are in acting to prevent the spread of Covid-19; cancelling unpayable debts owed by the poorest countries (News, 17 April); and safeguarding current humanitarian work in these areas.
Christian Aid’s policy and campaigns director, Patrick Watt, said: “Covid-19 has exposed the deep fault-lines in societies, and the ways in which our economy is broken. Without concerted action, the pandemic threatens to deepen those inequalities, and set back the fight against poverty by a generation.
“By taking steps now to minimise the spread of the virus, mitigate the worst effects on people’s livelihoods, and protect existing humanitarian work, governments and civil society can prevent a crisis from escalating into a catastrophe.”