There are calls from world leaders to the G20 nations for internationally-coordinated action within the next few days to address the growing global health and economic concerns arising from the coronavirus pandemic.
Nigeria’s former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his Ghanaian counterpart, John Kufuor, among others have added their voices to the call.
The world leaders, including United Kingdom’s Tony Blair and Gordon Brown; New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clark; Chairman of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, Mohammed Ibrahim; former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon; and Nigeria’s former Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, in a letter, called for global action in recognition of the gravity and urgency of the entwined public health and economic crisis
Also, they called for emergency support for global health initiatives led by the World Health Organisation and emergency measures to restore the global economy, insisting that tackling both public health and economic crisis arising from the pandemic required world leaders to commit more funding.
The letter read in part, “In 2008 to 2010, the immediate economic crisis could be surmounted when the economic fault line –under-capitalisation of the global banking system – was tackled. Now, however, the economic emergency will not be resolved until the health emergency is effectively addressed: 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.”
They said that even the finest and most sophisticated, well-funded health systems were “buckling under the pressures of the virus”.
But doing nothing while the disease spreads to vulnerable countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America will bring the scourge back to hit the rest of the world with further rounds that will see it prolonged, they added, calling on world leaders to commit the $8bn set out by the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board to make up for the gaps in the COVID-19 response.
Some of the health measures stated in their write-up include a release of $1bn this year to the WHO to enable it carry out its critically important mandate in full, which is beside the donations the body received from 200,000 individuals and organisations; provision of $3bn to scale up global research efforts and development of vaccines; support for the WHO in coordinating the global production and procurement of medical supplies to serve the world over instead of countries competing.
While acknowledging the efforts of various governments, the leaders pushed for a global economic response to a global economic crisis. They stated that their “aim should be to prevent a liquidity crisis, and a global recession becoming a global depression.”
One of their submissions is that “the international community should waive this year’s repayments, including $44bn due from Africa, and consider future debt relief to allow poor countries the fiscal space to tackle the health and economic impact of the pandemic.”
They also demanded the G20 to task the Breton Wood institutions to further assess the debt sustainability of the countries affected.
Other world leaders that signed the letter include Italy’s Prime Minister Giulano Amato, Malawi’s ex-President Joyce Banda, and Vice Chair of the Clinton Foundation, Chelsea Clinton.