Cases and deaths in countries in the Global Humanitarian Overview (GHO) declined by approximately a 1 quarter in September compared to August, which was consistent with a declining trend at the global level. Despite the overall decline, there are several worrying increases in humanitarian contexts, including in Ethiopia, Somalia, and Syria where record cases were reported this month.
Oxygen is desperately needed in humanitarian settings. Overcoming supply challenges and increased funding is critical to scale up oxygen ahead of COVID-19 surges. Most health facilities in countries with humanitarian emergencies are not equipped to meet the demand and struggle to access oxygen due to cost, infrastructure, and logistical barriers. The occupied Palestinian Territory, Somalia and Syria are just three countries with an inter-agency humanitarian response plan (HRP) that are currently experiencing surging demand and insufficient supplies of oxygen. Daily oxygen needs in these three countries are estimated to have increased between 600 and 1300 per cent in the past three months as COVID-19 cases have surged. A lack of access to 2 oxygen and insufficient funding is hampering partners' ability to respond to these surges. Timely and reliable access to oxygen is critical to treating COVID-19, preventing unnecessary loss of life, and strengthening health care overall in humanitarian contexts.
In 2021, the Global Fund's COVID-19 Response Mechanism (C19RM) has provided USD2.2 billion to 28 GHO countries to scale-up preparedness and response to COVID-19, including over USD800 million for tests, PPE, treatment, and oxygen. Almost two-thirds of countries with an inter-agency humanitarian response plan have been awarded a C19RM grant. In September, the US announced USD3.5 billion for the C19RM to sustain this mechanism as an important financing and procurement tool in 2022 for most GHO countries.
In September, two-thirds (23) of countries with an inter-agency humanitarian response plan received a record 67 million vaccine doses, more than double the number of doses delivered in August. Most doses went to just three countries - Pakistan (27m), Myanmar (8.1m) and Venezuela (6.4m). Four countries (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Haiti) have not received doses since June or July and only have enough doses to fully vaccinate 2 per cent or less of their populations. Administration of vaccines has been slow in these countries, but new financing from the World Bank and Gavi approved in September should help strengthen vaccine rollout efforts over the coming months.
WHO set a goal for at least 10 per cent of each country's population to be vaccinated by end of September. Only eleven HRP countries have reached this goal. Almost two-thirds of HRP countries have below 10 per cent of their population vaccinated, half under 5 per cent population coverage. In September, the COVAX Facility announced an additional 30 million doses to 12 HRP countries through an exceptional seventh round allocation, including to seven countries that have less than 10 per cent population coverage (Ethiopia, Iraq, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, South Sudan, and Syria).
In September, the World Bank approved a further USD1.1 billion for six GHO countries and Gavi approved approximately USD40.5 million for 12 GHO countries to support the procurement and roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines, bringing the total to more than USD3.5 billion of approved financing in 2021 to support 39 GHO countries.
School closures due to COVID-19 have continued in humanitarian settings, crippling progress on education SDGs, future earnings and increasing the risk of fragility and conflict. One-third of HRP countries experienced more weeks of full or partial closures between September 2020 to August 2021 than between March to August 2020.
The cost of food has risen in 18 GHO countries compared to the previous quarter. Increasing food costs are also reflective of record-high global food prices, where the average cost of food has increased by over one third compared to last year. These increases are partly attributed to escalated transportation costs via warehouse capacity shortages and delays at transportation connection points caused by the pandemic, as well as continued socioeconomic fallout and fragility from COVID-19.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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