The Coronavirus pandemic is the defining global health crisis of our time. Since its emergence late last year, the virus has spread to every continent except Antarctica. Cases are rising daily in Africa and South America, and Europe has taken over as the epicentre of the disease and more cases are now being reported every day than in China at the height of its epidemic.
The pandemic is moving like a wave—one that may yet crash on those least able to cope.
But COVID-19 is much more than a health crisis. By stressing every one of the countries it touches, it has the potential to create devastating social, economic and political crises that will leave deep scars.
We are in uncharted territory. Many of our communities are unrecognizable from even a week ago. Dozens of the world’s greatest cities are deserted as people stay indoors, either by choice or by government order. Across the world, shops, theatres, restaurants and bars are closing.
Every day, people are losing jobs and income, with no way of knowing when normality will return. Small island nations, heavily dependent on tourism, have empty hotels and deserted beaches. The International Labour Organization estimates that 25 million jobs could be lost.
Every country needs to act immediately to prepare, respond, and recover. The UN system will support countries through each stage, with a focus on the most vulnerable.
Drawing on our experience with other outbreaks such as Ebola, HIV, SARS, TB and malaria, as well as our long history of working with the private and public sector, UNDP will help countries to urgently and effectively respond to COVID-19 as part of its mission to eradicate poverty, reduce inequalities and build resilience to crises and shocks.
“We are already hard at work, together with our UN family and other partners, on three immediate priorities: supporting the health response including the procurement and supply of essential health products, under WHO’s leadership, strengthening crisis management and response, and addressing critical social and economic impacts.” UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner
In Iraq, UNDP and Kurdistan Human Rights Watch (KHRW) collaborated to train sixty women on sewing and tailoring in Ninewa at the beginning of this year 2020. At the time, these women could not have foreseen how their newly developed skills would contribute to combatting the deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic currently sweeping the globe.
in response to the spread of COVID-19, thirty of the recently trained women were employed to use their skills to produce the masks. After briefings on the health standards and nature of the environment required for mask production, the seamstresses began creating thousands of masks daily in controlled conditions. Working swiftly to produce this vital personal protection equipment despite the curfew in Ninewa Governorate, these skilled women are directly contributing to the mitigation of COVID-19 in Iraq.
In Anbar, eleven Local Peace Committees established by UNDP Iraq in earlier 2018 to promote peace and stability post-ISIL, have taken the initiative to protect their communities from COVID-19 pandemic by sterilizing public spaces in Iraq’s Anbar governorate.
Markets, streets, residential areas, schools, government institutions, mosques, and Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in major areas in Anbar are being disinfected by the committees through trained response teams in coordination with Anbar’s Defense, Health and Municipalities directorates.
Working with WhatsApp, WHO and UNICEF we have created an information hub that will get real time healthcare to billions around the world.
We have teamed up with AMV, one of the world’s largest advertising agencies, and actor, writer and comedian Stephen Fry for the Tweet Zero campaign, which highlights the simple actions that can keep you safe; such as frequent hand washing, staying home when sick and not touching your face.
It will require all of society to limit the spread of COVID-19 and to cushion the potentially devastating impact it may have on vulnerable people and economies.
We must rebuild trust and cooperation, within and among nations, and between people and their governments.
UNDP’s support will also help ensure that the responses of individual countries are comprehensive as well as equitable and inclusive, so that no one is left out and countries can continue to make progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.