Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Looking wider

As the UK heads towards a place near the the top of the big league in terms of deaths from coronavirus our anxieties naturally focus on our own situation and those of our friends and families. A look at the international list of coronavirus cases and deaths shows that these are so far heavily concentrated in the world's richest and most highly developed countries - ie those where the majority of people live who can afford to fly. (See previous post)

The key phrase  in the above is "so far."  If this virus catches on in the world's poorer countries, without  the sophisticated medical services that we rich enjoy, the consequences are gong to be disastrous. The potential effects on those crowded together in  shanty towns just don't bear thinking about.

Of the developing countries (for want of a better phrase) in which I have a particular interest, Papua New Guinea, where I worked for most of the 1970s, has so far only seven suspected cases and no deaths.  Malawi, where I did a two-year stint with VSO, has had just two coronavirus related deaths.  The Solomon Islands, where a friend and former colleague serves as a Roman Catholic priest, appears to have neither cases not deaths.

Astonishingly, in spite of all the efforts of those who have campaigned for the cancellation of toxic Third World Debt, especially via Jubilee 2000, there are still 64 poor countries spending more on debt repayment than they do their health services.  For details see here.

International campaigns for further debt cancellations in view of the pandemic are ongoing and meeting with some success, but what has been achieved so far has been described as a "drop in the ocean."  To discover how to add your voice please go to the website of Global Justice Now.

As Rishi Sunak quite rightly sprays money around as water through a hosepipe in order to "save" the British economy and our affluent lifestyle, so we need to play our part in generous rather than penny-pinching attempts to save lives in the poorer parts of the world.

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