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Covid-19 worsening conflicts, hunger, other humanitarian crisis –WHO

……..9.7 million children may never return to school

……..We must not lose sight of other challenges

Covid-19 worsening conflicts, hunger, other humanitarian crisis –WHO

By Charles Joseph

July 19, 2020 - The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called on World leaders and people not to lose sight of other ravaging humanitarian crisis in the quest to stem the Covid-19 pandemic.

WHO’s Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in his periodic briefing emphasized the need for other crisis such as hunger, poverty and conflicts to be given adequate attention alongside.

He said that the attention which the Covid-19 pandemic was getting over other crisis would end up exacerbating the other humanitarian needs.

“Although COVID-19 has rightly captured the world’s attention, we must also remember it is not the only crisis the world is facing.

“Many countries, especially in Africa and the Middle East, are still reeling from years of conflict and other humanitarian crises.

“COVID-19 threatens to exacerbate many of these crises.

“The pandemic, and the restrictions put in place to suppress it, are taking a heavy toll on 220 million people in protracted emergencies,” he said.

The WHO helmsman said that although it was too early to ascertain the magnitude of impact lockdowns and other containment measures have had, not less than 132 million people may go hungry in 2020.

He said that the 132 million people will be in addition to 690 million people who already went hungry in 2019, adding that deep budget cuts to education as well as rising poverty levels will see 9.7million children out of school forever.

“The economic impact of the pandemic in humanitarian settings can aggravate already dire living conditions – more displacement, food shortages, risk of malnutrition, decrease in access to essential services, mental health problems, and so on.

“WHO is working through our 150 country offices to support the response to COVID-19, to support the continuity of essential health services, and to engage communities to ensure demand for these services is maintained.

“It’s also vital that as an international community, we use this opportunity not only to respond to the pandemic, but to build health systems that are more resilient, and more able to withstand the impact of health emergencies.

“The pandemic is teaching us that health is not a luxury item; it’s the foundation of social, economic and political stability,” he said.

He said that the WHO had launched an update Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan three months ago, which estimates the resources needed to support WHO’s work on the pandemic.

He however noted that that it was not more obvious that the impacts of the pandemic go far beyond health, adding that there were other needs especially for the poorest and most vulnerable countries.

“The Global Humanitarian Response Plan addresses the immediate humanitarian needs caused or exacerbated by COVID-19 in 63 priority countries with existing humanitarian crises.

“If we fail to address the wider impacts of the pandemic, we risk an even greater crisis than the one brought about by the virus itself.

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