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  • People queue to buy vegetables, Guwahati, India, April 29, 2020.

    People queue to buy vegetables, Guwahati, India, April 29, 2020. | Photo: EFE

Published 29 April 2020
Opinion

The pandemic enhances the gaps between industrialized countries and developing nations.

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Wednesday warned of the "enormous differences" in the countries' capabilities to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, which is not only a global health emergency but also a systemic human development crisis.

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"It is a systemic human development crisis, already affecting the economic and social dimensions of development in unprecedented ways. Policies to reduce vulnerabilities and build capacities to tackle crises, both in the short and long term, are vital if individuals and societies are to better weather and recover from shocks like this," UNDP stated. 

This UN agency presented indicators that provide an image of the seriousness with which the COVID-19 crisis could affect 189 countries and widen the existing gaps between nations.

For example, the most developed countries have an average of 55 hospital beds for every 10,000 inhabitants and 30 doctors, and 81 nurses for every 10,000 people. In the poorest countries, however, there are only about 7 beds, 2.5 doctors, and 6 nurses for every 10,000.

Added to the above is the gap in access to the Internet and other modern technologies that influence the abilities to carry out work from home and virtual education.

“The digital divide has become more significant than ever. 6.5 billion people around the globe - 85.5 percent of the global population - still don't have access to reliable broadband Internet, which limits their ability to work and continue their education."

The UNDP also detailed that the greatest risk is assumed by people who live in situations of "multidimensional poverty", a group including at least 40 percent of the world's population that lacks any social protection.

"The COVID-19 pandemic also reminds us that shocks in one place are contagious and have consequences in other regions.

For example, a significant part of Kyrgyzstan's GDP comes from remittances," UNDP recalled.

Montenegro, Maldives, Cape Verde, or other countries that depend heavily on income from tourism are also in this situation.​​​​​​​

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