United Nations Bangladesh COVID-19 Situation Report #7 (20 May 2020)



On 13 May 2020, the United Nations Secretary General urged governments, civil society, health authorities and others to come together urgently to address the mental health dimension of this pandemic. Given that the current health crisis contains the seeds of a major mental health crisis, he urged governments, civil society, health authorities and others to urgently address the mental health dimension of this pandemic. 1 To minimize the mental health consequences of the pandemic, three actions were recommended – (a) apply a whole-of-society approach to promote, protect and care for mental health, (b) ensure widespread availability of emergency mental health and psychosocial support, and (c) support recovery from covid-19 by building mental health services for the future.2 In remarks echoed by the President of General Assembly, the Secretary General called for religious leaders to promote non-violence and reject xenophobia, racism and all forms of intolerance arising from COVID19 and appealed to them to condemn the increasing violence against women and girls. He asked religious leaders to use their networks to support governments to promote WHO public health measures and urged them to work with education providers to find solutions that support the continuity of education.3 In a discussion of measures taken upon coming out of lockdowns, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on 14 May4 noted that steps need to be in place for those most vulnerable, including residents and staff of care homes, psychiatric institutions, drug treatment centers, prisons and others, and to monitor health data from deprived areas, e.g. urban informal settlements. Never has it been so clear that it is important for all that no one is left out of social protection schemes. On the occasion of International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT), 17 May, the United Nations High Commissioner5 and the Human Rights Council’s Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity6 recalled that the pandemic has heightened the vulnerability of LGBTI people and their exposure to additional stigma, discrimination and violence; they called for States to empower communities who are left behind to participate in decision-making relating to the response. United Nations Human Rights issued a briefing note here and video. The Global Nutrition Report 2020, released on 12 May, emphasized the heightened significance ofnutritional well-being for all, particularly the most vulnerable, in the face of this new global threat. The need for more equitable, resilient and sustainable food and health systems has never been more urgent. It calls for strengthened coordination, alignment, financing and accountability from all sectors of society to address the diverse challenges posed by COVID-19.7 IOM reported on migration-related socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 in developing countries, notingthat declining remittances and increasing rates of returning migrants will place heavy economic and labor market burdens on developing countries. Remittances represent over 10% of GDP for 30 countries in the world, and over 5% of GDP for an additional 27 countries.8 The United Nations Technology Bank, together with the UNDP, UNCTAD and the WHO, launched the Tech Access Partnership (TAP) on 13 May as part of a coordinated approach to strengthen developing countries’ responses to COVID-19 and increase their access to lifesaving health technologies. TAP’s key functions will include – (a) product information, (b) technical guidance, and (c) partnerships. The initiative is guided by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the UN’s call for shared responsibility and solidarity during the COVID-19 crisis.9 In the World Economic Situation and Prospects mid-year report, UNDESA projects that the global economy will contract by 3.2% this year and is expected to lose nearly US$8.5 trillion in output over the next two years, wiping out nearly all gains of the previous four.10 The report finds that lockdown measures are heavily impacting global employment and incomes, pushing an additional 34.3 million people into extreme poverty in 2020, with African countries accounting for 56% of the increase.11 The report also assesses the breadth and limitations of current policy responses adopted by governments around the world and provides a useful basis to understand the policy choices available to different categories of countries – e.g. developed, commodity dependent, LDCs, SIDS.12 A new report released by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on 15 May placed the losses that the global economy could suffer as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in the range of $5.8 trillion to $8.8 trillion — equivalent to 6.4% to 9.7% of global gross domestic product (GDP).13 The potential economic impact on Asia and the Pacific is estimated at $1.7 trillion (6.2% of regional GDP) under a 3-month containment scenario and $2.5 trillion (9.3% of regional GDP) under a 6-month containment scenario, with the region accounting for 30% of the overall decline in global output. Government policy responses —such as direct income and revenue support—could soften the COVID-19 impact by as much as 30%–40%, reducing the global economic loss to $4.1 trillion–$5.4 trillion (4.5%–5.9% of global GDP). As of 18 May 2020, the Global Humanitarian Response Plan (GHRP) has received USD 1.01 billion against the total requirement of USD 6.64 billion.15 The largest contributors were Germany (USD 179.5 million), the USA (USD 134.7 million), the UK (USD 119.7 million), Japan (USD 85.0 million), and World Bank (USD 50.7 million). As of 18 May 2020, WHO’s Solidarity Response Fund had mobilized USD 212.5 million from more than 373,000 donations.16 WHO reported USD 3.3 billion in total support committed or disbursed for the COVID-19 response.