The Bill & Melinda Gates says following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, poverty has increased globally.
The foundation also revealed that due to the pandemic 20 years of progress towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (Global Goals) have been stalled.
This was revealed in a statement issued in Seattle, Washington by the Foundation in its annual Goalkeepers Report.
The report “shows that by nearly every indicator, the world has regressed. Because of COVID-19, extreme poverty has increased by 7%. Vaccine coverage, a good proxy measure for how health systems are functioning, is dropping to levels last seen in the 1990s, setting the world back about 25 years in 25 weeks.
“Economic damage from COVID-19 is reinforcing inequalities. The pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on women, racial and ethnic minority communities, and people living in extreme poverty,” the statement read in part.
It also revealed that around the world, women are facing an increased burden from rising demands in total unpaid care work and experiencing the majority of job losses.
Despite these projections, Bill and Melinda Gates however describe a path to ending the pandemic and resuming progress toward the Global Goals.
In the report, which they co-author every year, they call on the world to collaborate on the development of diagnostics, vaccines, and treatment; manufacture tests and doses as quickly as possible, and deliver these tools equitably based on need rather than the ability to pay.
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“The response to the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us some of the best of humanity: pathbreaking innovation, heroic acts by frontline workers, and ordinary people doing the best they can for their families, neighbours, and communities. This is a shared global crisis that demands a shared global response.”
The report said further that no single country will be able to meet this challenge alone.
Any attempts by one country to protect itself while neglecting others will only prolong the hardships caused by the pandemic.
Developing and manufacturing vaccines will not end the pandemic quickly unless they are delivered equitably.
According to modeling from Northeastern University, if rich countries buy up the first 2 billion doses of vaccine instead of making sure they are distributed equitably, then almost twice as many people could die from COVID-19.
The International Monetary Fund projects that, despite the US$18 trillion already spent to stimulate economies around the world, the global economy will lose US$12 trillion or more by the end of 2021—the biggest global GDP loss since the end of World War II.
In some countries, spending on emergency stimulus and social protection has prevented worse outcomes. But there are inherent limits to what low- and middle-income countries can do to safeguard their economies, regardless of how effectively those economies have been managed.
Bill and Melinda Gates believe COVID-19 is a true test for the global community.
“One of the most troubling things about this pandemic is that by disrupting health systems and the global economy, it’s starting to erase the progress people have made toward living healthier, more productive lives,” said Melinda Gates.
There report also highlights the actions which the world can take to turn things around.