Covid has amplified gender-based violence, mental illness, economic loss: UN chief

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on October 26, 2020 Published on October 26, 2020

Pandemic showed we’re not prepared for a crisis, says Antonio Guterres

In a recent summit of the UN which was concluded in Berlin, the multilateral organisation stated that the pandemic has amplified gender-based violence, mental illness and loss to the global economy among other key challenges.

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A UN release said the summit involved 100 countries and around 2,500 participants, and discussed improving health worldwide and responding to global health challenges.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in his video message, ran through the many disruptive effects of the coronavirus pandemic beyond the loss of more than 1,147,000 lives as of Sunday, and 42.5 million cases.

Guterres said around 500 million jobs have disappeared, with a monthly loss to the global economy of around $375 billion. Gender-based violence has skyrocketted, and mental illness “is a crisis within a crisis”. Some 24 million children could drop out of school, “with lifelong impact,” he added.

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“Covid-19 is driving us even farther off-course from achieving the vision and promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” said the UN chief, adding that the first hard lesson of the crisis was that “we were not prepared.”

‘Follow science'

He said in his speech: “If we follow the science, and demonstrate unity and solidarity, we can overcome the pandemic. Public health measures including masks, physical distancing and hand washing, are proven means of keeping the virus at bay.”

“Vaccines, tests, and therapies are more than lifesavers. They are economy savers and society savers. Relief will come not through one single step, but through smartly combining cutting-edge research with basic public health,” he added.

He told delegates that misinformation and disinformation are “deadly allies of the virus.” They are contributing to deaths and infections, and to social tensions that have led to violence.

On Covid-19 conspiracy theories, he said: “Unless we counter rumours, conspiracy theories and lies, they will negate our other efforts.”

He highlighted the UN’s Verified campaign to ensure people have access to accurate advice that protects and promotes health. “Let us use this opportunity to confront the Covid-19 crisis together, with the urgency and integrity it requires,” the Secretary-General concluded.

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Published on October 26, 2020
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