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A COVID-19 Response for the World’s Poor

Summary:
The poorest countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America are facing pandemic-induced economic and public-health emergencies that demand immediate action. G20 leaders therefore must agree now on measures to prevent the current recession from deepening, and to mitigate its impact on the world’s most vulnerable people. LONDON – G20 leaders urgently need to reconvene to agree on an enhanced and more strongly coordinated global response to the COVID-19 crisis. Although lockdowns are being eased in many places, the daily number of new COVID-19 cases worldwide recently reached its highest level yet, while the pandemic’s devastating economic toll continues to mount as new epicenters arise in the emerging and developing

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The poorest countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America are facing pandemic-induced economic and public-health emergencies that demand immediate action. G20 leaders therefore must agree now on measures to prevent the current recession from deepening, and to mitigate its impact on the world’s most vulnerable people.

LONDON – G20 leaders urgently need to reconvene to agree on an enhanced and more strongly coordinated global response to the COVID-19 crisis. Although lockdowns are being eased in many places, the daily number of new COVID-19 cases worldwide recently reached its highest level yet, while the pandemic’s devastating economic toll continues to mount as new epicenters arise in the emerging and developing world.

We are at a critical moment, because the poorest countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America are facing economic and public-health emergencies that demand immediate action. A diverse group of middle-income economies need help, too. Together, these countries represent nearly 70% of the world’s population and account for approximately one-third of global GDP.

Their needs will grow more acute in the months and years ahead. The International Labor Organization expects that global working hours in the second quarter of 2020 will be 10.5% below pre-crisis levels, equivalent to the loss of more than 300 million full-time jobs. And, for the first time this century, global poverty is rising.

Indeed, a global recession could reverse up to three decades of improvements in living standards and, according to one estimate, push 420-580 million people worldwide into poverty. The World Food Program, moreover, has warned that COVID-19 will likely double the number of people suffering from acute hunger, to 265 million.

The pandemic has also given rise to the greatest education emergency of our lifetime, with 1.7 billion children – more than 90% of the global total – having been out of school because of lockdowns. In poor countries, many may never go back. Millions of children who no longer receive school meals are going hungry, and cash-strapped governments are reducing education aid.

This global economic and social emergency will not end until we overcome the global health emergency. And that will require overcoming it in all countries.

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