1. GLOBAL OVERVIEW
With the onset of a global recession and pressures within many countries to ease lockdowns, on 16 April 2020, the WHO Regional Director for Europe Dr. Hans Henri Kluge noted that transition out of lockdowns must be guided by public health principles, and listed six criteria to consider before easing of restrictions and transition. The criteria are that (i) evidence shows COVID-19 transmission is controlled; (ii) public health and health system capacities including hospitals are in place to identify, isolate, test, trace contacts and quarantine them; (iii) outbreak risks are minimized in high-vulnerability settings; (iv) workplace preventive measures are established; (v) importation risks can be managed; and (vi) communities have a voice and are engaged in the transition. On 14 April 2020, WHO published an update of the Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan incorporating lessons learned, draft operational planning guidance for United Nations country teams and updated country preparedness and response status for COVID-19.
With a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases in Africa in the last week, the United Nations Secretary General expressed his full solidarity with the people of Africa in a meeting with the Member States’ African Group on 15 April. Expressing his gratitude for the positive responses from a large number of African heads of states to his appeal for a global ceasefire, he called for all efforts to be directed at fighting the common enemy that is the COVID-19 epidemic.
In an address to the virtual IMF and World Bank High Level meeting to “Mobilize with Africa” on 17 April 2020, the Secretary General reiterated his earlier call for a comprehensive global response package exceeding 10 per cent of global GDP. For Africa this would exceed USD200 billion. Commending the swift actions by IMF and the World Bank Group, he called for greater resources for IMF, and enhanced support for the World Bank Group and other International Financial Institutions from member states. He also called for alleviating the burden of international debt for developing countries.
In the virtual IMF/World Bank Spring Meeting for 2020, the Development Committee in its communique of 17 April 2020, encouraged the World Bank Group and IMF to continue assisting all clients in partnership with WHO and UN agencies, international financial institutions, and bilateral partners. The Development Committee commended the IMF and the World Bank Group for their rapid response to the crisis and welcomed the World Bank Group’s estimated financial support of up to US$150-160 billion over the next 15 months, with a focus on the poorest and vulnerable in all client countries. It also welcomed the IMF’s escalated financial support for developing countries through both its regular facilities and emergency funding.
While global outlook is depressed for the current year, the World Economic Outlook published last week projects strong recovery in several countries in 2021. After its forty first meeting on 16 April the International Monetary and Finance Committee in its communiqué of 16 April 2020, noted that “While the global outlook is subject to exceptionally high uncertainty, we expect a recovery next year as we continue to employ all available policy tools to defeat the pandemic, protect jobs, and restore growth.” However, speaking to the BBC, Ms. Kristalina Georgieva said that even the dire predictions of the World Economic Outlook might be too optimistic compared to reality.
As of 19 April 2020, the Global Humanitarian Response Plan (GHRP) had received USD548.2 million. Another USD347.3 million received outside the plan brought humanitarian funding for the COVID-19 response to USD895.5 million. The largest bilateral donors were Japan (USD95.9 million), the United Kingdom (USD90.6 million), Kuwait (USD40.0 million), European Commission (USD35.3 million) and Denmark (USD35.1 million).9 As of 18 April 2020, WHO’s Solidarity Response Fund had mobilized USD152.4 million from 270,000 donations.10 WHO reported USD2.4 billion in total support committed or disbursed for the COVID-19 response.
At the local level, the United Nation Country Team’s (UNCT) collective support through the Country Preparedness and Response Plan (CPRP) to the Government’s COVID-19 response mobilized USD20.6 million mobilized against a total ask of USD197.1 million. Of this, USD12.8 million was new funding received, while USD7.8 million was funding reprogrammed, in consultation with relevant donors, of ongoing activities. New funding came from timely contributions from UK, ECHO, Australia, USAID, BGMF and Japan.