Protect lives, mitigate future shocks and recover better: UN-wide COVID-19 response
Over the course of 2020 thus far, the coronavirus has taken hundreds of thousands of lives, infected millions of people, and wreaked socio-economic, humanitarian and human rights havoc, the United Nations said in a new report released on Wednesday.
According to the September update of the UN Comprehensive Response to COVID-19, no country has been spared; no population left unscathed.
Among other things, the update outlines the steps needed to save lives, protect societies and recover better while pointing the way to addressing future shocks, above all from climate change, and overcoming the universal inequities.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres has often said that the pandemic is a human crisis that has laid bare severe and systemic inequalities.
“No country has been spared. No population group remains unscathed. Nobody is immune to its impacts”, the report spelled out.
To address this, the UN is pursuing a three-point comprehensive response focused on health, safeguarding lives and livelihoods, and addressing underlying vulnerabilities to rebuild a more resilient, inclusive and sustainable world.
The update revealed that the UN system led the global health response early on, providing life-saving humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable, establishing rapid responses to the socio-economic impact and laying out a broad policy agenda.
Solid science, reliable data, and analysis are critical for policy- and decision-making, especially for the tough choices required during a pandemic, according to the report.
To help create a knowledge base and provide support to national policymakers, the UN has also issued a series of policy brief that examines the pandemic’s diverse impacts and offers relevant information and advice.
Containing the virus
The most urgent course of action in dealing with COVID -19 has been to suppress transmission of the virus, through detecting, testing, isolating and caring for those affected.
This requires physical distancing, fact- and science-based public information, expanded testing, increased health-care facility capacities, supporting health-care workers, and ensuring adequate supplies.
Some countries can or have already achieved these conditions with their own resources but developing countries continue to need considerable support, the report noted.
The update shone a spotlight on the need for the biggest public health effort in human history.
That means a vaccine, diagnostics and treatment for everyone, everywhere.
At the Global Vaccine Summit in June, the UN chief spelled out, “A COVID-19 vaccine must be seen as a global public good”.
Battling twin crises
As climate change is not on hold, recovery from COVID-19 must go hand-in hand with climate action.
And addressing both simultaneously requires a response stronger than any seen before, upheld the report.
It saw recovery as an opportunity to address the fragilities laid bare by the virus, including the climate crisis.
Moreover, it outlined the steps needed to move forward, such as decarbonizing transport, buildings and energy sectors; transitioning away from fossil fuels; and creating jobs to build resilient and sustainable infrastructures.
Sustaining the response
As the world is still in the acute phase of the pandemic, the UN update maintained the importance of sustained political leadership, unprecedented levels of funding, and extraordinary solidarity between and within countries to recover.
The Organization will continue to consult with Member States and all partners on how best to support these efforts over the long term.