COVID-19: a Grave Threat to the Third WorldBy Alan | Fri, 04/10/2020 - 13:18
COVID-19 took the world by storm and overwhelmed health systems in first world countries. Spain now has over 140,000 COVID-19 cases with nearly 5,000 new ones every day. The US has now become the epicenter of this global pandemic with nearly half a million cases reported and projections for over a million cases to come in the following weeks. If the most advanced economies in the world are failing to contain this virus, then what can we expect in the developing world?
Most low-income countries around the globe are still in the early stages of COVID-19. Africa has a slower rate of infection than the UK, partly due to the extreme measures taken by countries in the region. Sudan closed schools after only 1 death was registered due to COVID-19, Ethiopia has declared a state of emergency to help curve the pandemic and many nations such as Egypt have shut down airports. Yet, there are a great deal of factors that make developing countries a ticking time bomb for cataclysm. Lack of water, malnutrition, high population densities, poor infrastructure and absence of proper government assistance are just some of the issues making COVID-19 a grave threat.
Health experts predict that mortality rates in these nations could dwarf those in first world countries if the virus should continue to spread exponentially. African COVID-19 cases have surpassed 10,000 with more than 500 deaths. Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, has stated that the virus has the potential to cause thousands of deaths if proper measures are not quickly enforced. WHO is working closely with African governments to ensure their capacities for surveillance, testing, isolation, case management and infection prevention and control are up to the challenge. WHO is also providing essential equipment and training to health workers throughout Africa. The international community is also being urged to provide technical and financial assistance due to the great impact the pandemic could have on countries with fragile health systems.
High mortality rates are not the only problem third world countries are facing. Economists are already predicting economic devastation for developing countries. These nations already have precarious economies at best. Global strategic consulting giant McKinsey had projected growth for the African continent at 3.9 percent for 2020. With the COVID-19 outbreak, growth is projected at -3.9 percent If the virus is not contained. The best-case scenario is at 0.4 percent growth. The World Bank Group launched its first economic plan regarding COVID-19 in developing countries. US$160 billion will be destined to developing countries over the next 15 months, aiding them in their fight against COVID-19. The EU has also approved a US$20 billion plan to aid African, Latin American, Asian and Balkan countries stated Josep Borrell, EU Foreign Policy Chief. These economic aid packages are aimed at helping countries detect, prevent and respond to COVID-19. Should COVID-19 explode in developing countries, the global economic and humanitarian aftershock will be felt for years to come.