Global leaders issue G20 call for action to co-ordinate world response to COVID-19

09:12 | 09/04/2020
A 165-strong international group, including 92 former presidents and prime ministers, along with current economic and health leaders of the developed and developing world, have come together to demand the creation of a G20 executive task force and an immediate global conference which would approve and co-ordinate a multi-billion dollar coronavirus fighting fund.
global leaders issue g20 call for action to co ordinate world response to covid 19
Blocking economic activities and social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are dampening global economic growth outlook for 2020. Photo: AFP

The group of global leaders wants both to speed up the search for a vaccine, cure and treatment of  coronavirus (COVID-19) and revive the global economy.

In an open letter addressed to G20 leaders, the group urges global collaboration and commitment to tackle the twin health and economic emergencies caused by COVID-19 pandemic.

In the letter, the global leaders said that the economic emergency will not be resolved until the health emergency is addressed and that the health emergency will not end simply by conquering the disease in one country alone but by ensuring recovery from COVID-19 in all countries.

The leaders warned that all health systems – even the most sophisticated and best funded – are buckling under the pressures of COVID-19.

“Yet if we do nothing as the disease spreads in poorer African, Asian and Latin American cities which have little testing equipment, hardly any ventilators, and few medical supplies; and where social distancing and even washing hands are difficult to achieve, COVID-19 will persist there – and re-emerge to hit the rest of the world with further rounds that will prolong the crisis,” the letter states.

The letter added that $8 billion emergency health funding should be approved to fill the most urgent gaps in the COVID-19 response. This includes $1 billion this year for the World Health Organization (WHO), $3 billion for vaccines and $2.25 billion for therapeutics.

Besides, "Instead of each country, or state or province within it, competing for a share of the existing capacity, with the risk of rapidly-increasing prices, we should also be vastly increasing capacity by supporting the WHO in co-ordinating the global production and procurement of medical supplies, such as testing kits, personal protection equipment, and ITU technology to meet fully the worldwide demand. We will also need to stockpile and distribute essential equipment,” the letter says.

The global leaders call for setting aside $35 billion to support countries with weaker health systems and especially vulnerable populations in the fight against COVID-19.

The global leaders call for setting aside $35 billion, as highlighted by the WHO, to support countries with weaker health systems and especially vulnerable populations, including the provision of vital medical supplies, surge support to the national health workforce and strengthening national resilience and preparedness.

According to the WHO, almost 30 per cent of countries have no COVID-19 national preparedness response plans and only half have a national infection prevention and control programme.

Citing research by Imperial College London, the letter said 1.2 million Covid-19 deaths were possible in Africa and Asia’s poorest countries even in the most optimistic estimates.

The global leaders, therefore, propose convening a global pledging conference whose purpose was supported by a G20 Executive Task Force to commit resources to meeting these emergency global health needs.

To improve the global economic outlook, the global leaders propose a range of measures. They call for national governments to counter the downward slide of their respective economies.

The letter states, “Global economic problem requires a global economic response. Our aim should be to prevent a liquidity crisis turning into a solvency crisis, and a global recession becoming a global depression.”

The global leaders say in the letter that to ensure this, better co-ordinated fiscal, monetary, central bank, and anti-protectionist initiatives are needed, and that “the ambitious fiscal stimuli of some countries will be all-the-more effective if more strongly complemented by all countries in a position to do so.”

They also say a radical rethink of global public health and a refashioning, together with proper resourcing, of the entwined global health and financial architecture would be a long term solution.

Last but not least, the global leaders urged the UN, the G20 leaders and interested partners to work together to co-ordinate further action.

By Anh Duc

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