COVID-19 and Inequity: The always forgotten aspect.
Responding to pandemics extends beyond healthcare, to a multitude of factors affecting the health status. But do we all have equal opportunities for coping with them? The COVID-19 pandemic is a stark reminder of the divide that exists and how socio-economic determinants shape people’s resilience. The unequal distribution of resources, power and goods does only accentuate the social gradient and the present health inequalities among countries and communities.
Even though a global crisis, countries face different scenarios with unequal consequences, hence requiring a tailored response. This has proved to be challenging. With the lack of resources and increasing burden, the COVID-19 pandemic risks reversing decades of progress in the fight against poverty,exacerbating gross inequalities around the world, within and between countries. Social conditions, such as overpopulation, poor housing conditions, weak sanitary conditions and lack of clean water, only adds to the burden of the pandemic and to the caseload. Food security has also been threatened by the restrictions imposed due to the pandemic. These are all pre-existing conditions, produced by policies and practices that undermine the principles of equality and non-discrimination.
IFMSA calls upon governments to actively play the role of coordination in efficient crisis management and resource distribution. Also, governmental ministries should join efforts to implement policies to ensure the accessibility to resources and scale up social protection, especially on the safety and resilience of healthcare facilities. Together with all NGOs active on a local level, direct provision to resources should be carried out to support individuals, families and communities, including workers and households. We also call upon our fellow International Organisations to ensure that all resource distribution is impartial, neutral and independent from political agendas and to report eventual human rights violations that contribute to the gap of inequality. IFMSA believes that this moment demands coordinated, decisive, and innovative policy action globally, and maximum financial and technical support for the economically vulnerable ones, who will be the most impacted by the global crisis.
By Blanca, Inês, Mahmood, and Tammy.