The President of Doctors without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) International, Dr Christos Christou, shared his thoughts on the Covid-19 pandemic at the 2020 ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment high-level panel on the increasing complexity of health challenges in humanitarian contexts.

He said that the pandemic has brought suffering, fear, and death to populations around the globe and its impact was not shared equally. Many of the most vulnerable have already suffered terribly due to a lack of state investment in healthcare for all while others were living through conflicts, witnessing the erosion of international humanitarian law.

‘As humanitarian teams have been partially evacuated and not replaced, those reliant on aid and those suffering from neglected diseases are suffering disproportionately. Others have been forced to flee their homes, forced to navigate a world where conventions protecting refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced people are frequently disregarded, and where little consideration is given to migrants. Today, we must acknowledge that this pandemic comes after years of questioning humanitarian assistance and principles, and innumerable cases of violence against health workers and facilities’, he added.

One of the terrible paradoxes Christou pinpointed was that the very governments who created conditions in which the vulnerable were left disproportionately exposed to Covid-19, were the same governments who were now making calls for solidarity and cooperation.

Christou noted that healthcare workers all around the world who were risking their lives to provide care for patients were facing serious shortages of basic protective equipment. However, he called on the government to step up and recognise their responsibilities to the healthcare workers.

‘And they will also need you to take responsibility for what is coming next. Because [Covid-19] is creating devastating waves of crisis. Increased poverty, malnutrition, excess mortality. We are increasingly worried about countries like the Central African Republic, where the cumulative impact risks producing critical humanitarian needs. We must prepare now for these secondary impacts, which will be at least as devastating as the virus itself, and will follow the current situation where many facilities have been overwhelmed’, he added.

Christou concluded, ‘You will not be safe from [Covid-19] until everyone is safe from [Covid-19]. From the poorest displaced families to the richest individuals, this virus will continue to be a global threat for as long as it takes for vaccines and treatments to be available to all’.

Source: Doctors without Borders

Photo source: Little Phoenix

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