COVID-19 Need to protect vulnerable groups - GulfToday

COVID-19: Need to protect vulnerable groups


Thursday marked 100 days since the World Health Organization (WHO) first notified about what is now officially known as COVID-19.  The onslaught wreaked by the virus continues unabated even as officials have recorded more than 1.6 million cases and more than 96,344 deaths in 193 countries since it emerged in China in December.

The United States with 466,299 remains the hardest-hit country in terms of cases, of whom 16,686 have died.

The window for containing the new coronavirus is closing in many countries, as World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus points out.

While infection numbers in Africa are still relatively small, they are growing fast. The disease is estimated to be 10 times more lethal than influenza, requiring a whole-of government, whole-of-society response.

The global spread of the virus has overwhelmed health systems, disrupted the global economy and led to widespread social disruption.

UN officials have rightly pointed out that vulnerable groups, including women, need special consideration. Seventy per cent of the world’s health-workers are women and their protection and adequate remuneration are of paramount concern.

At the same time, women are more likely to work in low-wage and informal sectors, without paid sick leave, health insurance or social protection and the elderly are often subsisting without any form of pension.

Moreover, confinement measures are an additional burden when caring for those sick, the aged and out-of-school children. And women and girls face increased risks of domestic violence.

Other vulnerable groups requiring greater attention include detainees; people with disabilities; indigenous peoples and minorities; migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons; civilians in conflict zones; and older people living alone or in institutions.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, the epidemic has clarified the need for the world to redouble its efforts to ensure that all people, including the most vulnerable, benefit moving forward.

Benevolent UAE, on it part, has been continuing to do its best to extend a helping hand to global efforts.

A United Arab Emirates aid plane carrying 11 metric tonnes of medical supplies was dispatched to Ukraine to assist the country in combating the COVID-19 pandemic, benefitting over 10,000 healthcare professionals.

This initiative is part of the UAE’s commitment to cooperating with countries working to combat the COVID-19 outbreak in order to strengthen global efforts to curb the virus’ spread.

In UAE Ambassador to Ukraine Salem Ahmed Al Kaabi’s words: “This provision of aid by the UAE comes as a gesture of solidarity with countries seeking to bolster their fight against COVID-19. The UAE stands with the leadership and people of Ukraine during this challenging moment that the international community must face as a united front.”

The UAE assistance to Ukraine would enable medical staff to safely perform their professional duties in combating the virus’ spread.

As Al Kaabi underscored, the UAE has been extending its support to Ukraine and all countries affected by COVID-19 as they work to overcome this humanitarian crisis.

The international community, as WHO officials point out, must help countries build their capacities to prepare and respond, provide epidemiological analysis and risk communication, coordinate the global supply chain, provide technical expertise and mobilise the health workforce, and accelerate research, innovation and knowledge sharing.

The singular focus of the world community should be on finding ways to stop the deadly pandemic. Only global solidarity could ensure that we combat the pandemic effectively.


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