InterAction, the largest U.S.-based alliance of international NGOs that implement and advocate for U.S. humanitarian, global health, development, and democracy programs, strongly urges the U.S. Congress to appropriate no less than $20 billion in foreign assistance to fight the COVID-19 pandemic globally in the next COVID-19 supplemental.
Urgent action is needed to mitigate the pandemic’s health and economic consequences, protect vulnerable populations, and set the stage for a lasting recovery, both abroad and at home. This virus knows no borders. We will not defeat this virus anywhere until we defeat it everywhere.
The number of new COVID-19 cases is growing faster than ever worldwide, with, on average, more than 250,000 cases reported every day. If left unchecked, the pandemic could infect up to 640 million people and kill 1.7 million people in the world’s most at-risk 32 low-income countries. In addition, at least 2 million preventable deaths could occur as a result of disrupted healthcare through the pandemic.
Beyond the immediate health crisis, the secondary impacts of the pandemic are particularly devastating. According to the United Nations, the number of people in urgent need of aid has doubled. A protracted school shutdown of five months could generate learning losses that have a present value of $10 trillion globally. In addition, nearly 370 million children have missed out on school meals, many in countries where they are hungry most of the time. The WHO and UNICEF warn of a decline in vaccinations during the COVID-19 pandemic, threatening to reverse decades of hard-won progress and U.S. leadership in reducing child mortality.
Analysis by the World Bank shows that the pandemic is expected to plunge most countries into recession in 2020, with per capita income contracting in the largest fraction of countries globally since 1870. The World Bank also forecasts a 5.2% contraction in global GDP this year, the deepest global recession in decades, which are expected to leave lasting scars through lower investment, an erosion of human capital through lost work and schooling, and fragmentation of global trade and supply linkages.
An investment of at least $20 billion to fight COVID-19 abroad is an investment in vulnerable communities and global stability, helping fight disease, hunger, and economic uncertainty. This investment also serves Americans, helping to defeat a virus that can always return to our shores.