Unite against coronavirus
The coronavirus pandemic is changing all our lives. For some of us it has been devastating, losing loved ones or desperately worrying about those who are vulnerable. All of us feel the day-to-day impact, some facing financial hardship or working in a frontline role at greater risk.
For our sisters and brothers in the Global South, the threat to their livelihoods, in addition to their health, is scarcely imaginable. Coronavirus is laying bare the inequalities that exist in our society, and for countries with health systems much more fragile than our own, the effects could be devastating.
The inequalities exposed by coronavirus is a matter of justice. We can do something about this crisis. We can use our voices here in the UK to tell our government to take practical, concrete actions to assist developing countries in the coronavirus response.
What does the petition call for and who is it addressed to?
The petition is addressed to the Prime Minister. It urges him to work with other world leaders to:
- Make sure that any vaccine developed with UK public money is made available to everyone, regardless of their income or where in the world they live.
- Provide urgent financial and technical support to help developing countries cope with this crisis.
- Cancel all debt payments by developing countries due in 2020 so that countries can spend money on much needed healthcare rather than debt repayments.
- Put plans in place to rebuild a fairer, more just society after the crisis so that the world’s most vulnerable people can live in dignity and to restore our common home for future generations.
How can governments work together to fight coronavirus?
Scientists worldwide are racing to develop vaccines to immunise people against coronavirus and to discover treatments. Before we reach this stage, governments must work together to ensure that all countries will be able to afford vaccines or treatments and that systems are put in place to ensure that they are available – both the number of vaccines or drugs required and the means of reaching the most remote and vulnerable communities with them.
We have seen how coronavirus has spread globally. Our lives are increasingly interconnected and now more than ever is not the time to build barriers. Developing a vaccine which is accessible to all would therefore benefit all and assist in the global fight against coronavirus.
What role does debt play?
We have seen how critical a role the NHS has played in protecting and caring for people in this country. Yet the world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries have more fragile health systems, with some having almost no ventilators or intensive care facilities. Many of these countries face debt payments many times greater than the amount of money spent on health services. It is essential that these countries have debts cancelled to enable them to instead spend money on the medical equipment and infrastructure required to protect the most vulnerable people.
This must take the form of the cancellation of debts, rather than debt suspensions as this risks pushing an economic crisis into future years.
What about the climate crisis?
The climate and environmental crisis has not gone away. Carbon emissions are likely to fall this year, but we need to make urgent and rapid reductions by shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy – not because of a virus which has caused so much suffering to people worldwide. This means that governments must still meet their obligations under the Paris Agreement to set out how they will make this shift and must do so in a fair and just way which protects the poorest and most vulnerable. We must continue to respond to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.