As coronavirus gets a foothold in every country, governments in the global south are facing an appalling choice: pay for emergency healthcare, or pay off international debts.
Across Africa, Asia and Latin America, lower-income countries urgently need to scale up their health spending. But they’re due to spend over $25 billion on debt payments in 2020. This is money that could be used now to save lives as this terrible virus continues to spread.
Jubilee Debt Campaign and the UN have called for immediate debt cancellation for lower-income countries in response to the coronavirus threat. Money that could be going towards urgent healthcare to save lives should not be flowing out to some of the world’s wealthiest lenders. The UN says developing countries need $2.5 trillion of debt cancellation, emergency finance and aid to weather the storm. UN chief António Guterres has called it the biggest global challenge since World War Two, saying: “what the world needs now is solidarity”.*
In Mali, the country has 20 ventilators for a population of 19 million. In Haiti, there are 64 ventilators to cover 11 million people. Kenya has 130 beds in intensive care units, for 50 million people. We have 4,000 ICUs in the UK – and we all know it’s not enough.
- UN calls for $2.5tn emergency package for developing nations, 30 March 2020,