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The Action Thread Part Two

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How ONE Champions in East Africa are stepping up to tackle COVID-19

12 May 2020 3:48PM UTC | By: ONE CAMPAIGN


Demand a Global Response to Coronavirus

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The COVID-19 pandemic has changed every corner of the world. Everyone has been pushed to action, in protecting themselves and their community, whether it is by wearing masks themselves or by social distancing. The global and community outreach during this pandemic have been crucial in keeping everyone safe and reminding us that we’re all in this together.

At ONE, our activists and champions are exemplifying the leadership and service we need to tackle this global pandemic.

Carine Umutoniwase is a youth activist and a ONE Champion in Kenya. Through her organisation Footprints for Change she reaches her community through food drives and health awareness campaigns on the COVID-19 virus.

We’ll win this if we are united in the fight against COVID-19 and combine our efforts to support the less fortunate. — Carine

Wondwossen Amsalu Misrak, a ONE Champion in Ethiopia, founded an organisation called Synergy for Community Development. He has worked for many years with vulnerable groups in his region, Dire Dawa.

This is the first time that humanity is united and collaborating in its fear of a common enemy. — Wondwossen

We asked Carine and Wondwossen some questions about their initiatives, challenges and misconceptions they’ve faced, and their messages of hope. Here’s what they had to say:

What is the government currently doing for your community in fighting COVID- 19?


Carine: Government interventions in the informal settlements have been scarce owing to a protracted lack of infrastructure and contextualised initiatives in poor neighbourhoods. The government released relief funds, and distribution to people living in the informal settlements has begun, although it has been tainted by favouritism. There are various government offices supporting the community with water.



Wondwossen: The people of Dire Dawa are more vulnerable to COVID-19 as it is close to the border with hard-hit countries.The Administration has taken more measures to curtail the spread of the virus by closing borders and learning institutions. The government is also using the youth channels to raise awareness in the community.

Is the community properly informed on the symptoms of the virus and preventative measures to take? Are there any misconceptions you have encountered?

Carine: Several actors in the community have been passing information on the preventive measures of COVID-19 through art, flyers, and banners. However, there is little information being passed regarding symptoms of the virus. I have heard some people say that COVID-19 is not real but rather a narrative created by the government. There are those who do not believe that coronavirus is real. Others believe that someone from the ghetto cannot get coronavirus.

Wondwossen: I believe the community has an average awareness of the symptoms of the virus and preventive measures to be taken. However, some people are not observing the measures in their day-to-day activities especially in the market places.

What initiative have you taken in your community and what impact has it had?

Carine: Through Footprints for Change and other youth networks and partners (Billian Music Family, August 7th Memorial Park, Kenya Unites, Crime Si Poa, The Legend Koch and Jesuit Fathers), I am running weekly food drives for the needy — the sick, elderly, single headed families, homeless, and orphans — in informal settlement communities. So far we have fed 490 families in informal settlements in Nairobi (Mathare, Korogocho, and Mukuru kwa Ruben) since April. The food drives will run until June with a target of 2,000 vulnerable families as the pandemic continues to spread across the country. Likewise, I mobilise soap distribution for public toilets, water kiosks, and market places in Mathare, Korogocho, and Mukuru kwa Ruben on a weekly basis to assist in increasing hygiene practices in the community.


Wondwossen: I am mobilising the youth in my community to raise awareness in fighting COVID-19. My role is in developing an action plan and coordinating the efforts to ensure sustainability and effectiveness in the initiative. My team has mobilised more than 300 youth from nine kebeles (sub-cities) to sensitise the local community and donate sanitisers, gloves, and sanitary materials. It has led to the support of hundreds of people in need of help.

Are there challenges that you have faced in undertaking your activities?

We were not prepared to address the novel coronavirus, especially in the informal settlements.

Carine: Life as usual was halted abruptly due to the outbreak of COVID-19. We were not prepared to address the novel coronavirus, especially in the informal settlements. We have had to adapt our interventions to meet the community needs during this period. We also have challenges mobilising resources for the food and soap drives in the community. The myths in the community also hinder progress in our interventions.

Wondwossen: Yes, finding supplies such as sanitisers and gloves for the volunteers is a major challenge. We usually send them to teach the local community and help them get a better understanding of the nature of the coronavirus, the transmission, and the precautions to be taken. On the other hand, in areas where water shortages occurred, it has been difficult to raise awareness about hand-washing and hygiene. We, however, suggested to the Dire Dawa city administration solutions to these challenges that they could consider.

What message of hope do you have for the world today?

Love is more contagious than COVID-19.

Carine: A friend said that love is more contagious than COVID-19. The pandemic has not discriminated in its wake; we should thus be united in our response and spread hope by being our brother’s keeper. Let us remember as Martin Luther King Jr said “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” We’ll win this if we are united in the fight against COVID-19 and combine our efforts to support the less fortunate.

Wondwossen: This is the first time that humanity is united and collaborating in its fear of a common enemy. We should apply tips and instructions that we are told by health professionals properly, and our collective action can only discover the path to the possibilities that we seek. We will rise, wiser, on a new wave of consciousness, with a sustainable mindset and humane outlook.

Demand a Global Response to Coronavirus

People all over the world are standing in solidarity with each other to fight coronavirus, but the virus keeps moving fast.

The pandemic will inevitably wreak its worst on the communities and countries that are least able to withstand the shock. Let’s stand with the most vulnerable whether they live across the street or across the ocean.

We are one world and it’s time to fight for humanity against the virus. Sign our petition telling governments that a global pandemic demands a global response.

Dear World Leaders,

The world needs a Pandemic Response Plan to:

– Protect the vulnerable, support essential workers, and make a vaccine available to everyone
– Support people worst hit economically
– Strengthen health systems so we’re ready if this happens agai

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7 May 2020 4:26PM UTC | By: ROBYN DETORO


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As the effects of the #COVID19 pandemic unfold, we’re hearing incredible stories shared by ONE supporters around the world. Thanks Sikemi for your #ONEWorld story of hope and unity.

Share your Stories of Solidarity in the comments below.
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The cost of inaction: COVID-19-related service disruptions could cause hundreds of thousands of extra deaths from HIV

Gains made in preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV could be reversed, with new HIV infections among children up by as much as 104%

11 May 2020 
Joint News Release

A modelling group convened by the World Health Organization and UNAIDS has estimated that if efforts are not made to mitigate and overcome interruptions in health services and supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic, a six-month disruption of antiretroviral therapy could lead to more than 500 000 extra deaths from AIDS-related illnesses, including from tuberculosis, in sub-Saharan Africa in 2020–2021. In 2018, an estimated 470 000 people died of AIDS-related deaths in the region.

There are many different reasons that could cause services to be interrupted—this modelling exercise makes it clear that communities and partners need to take action now as the impact of a six-month disruption of antiretroviral therapy could effectively set the clock on AIDS-related deaths back to 2008, when more than 950 000 AIDS-related deaths were observed in the region. And people would continue to die from the disruption in large numbers for at least another five years, with an annual average excess in deaths of 40% over the next half a decade. In addition, HIV service disruptions could also have some impact on HIV incidence in the next year.

“The terrible prospect of half a million more people in Africa dying of AIDS-related illnesses is like stepping back into history,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization.

“We must read this as a wake-up call to countries to identify ways to sustain all vital health services. For HIV, some countries are already taking important steps, for example ensuring that people can collect bulk packs of treatment, and other essential commodities, including self-testing kits, from drop-off points, which relieves pressure on health services and the health workforce. We must also ensure that global supplies of tests and treatments continue to flow to the countries that need them,” added Dr Tedros.

In sub-Saharan Africa, an estimated 25.7 million people were living with HIV and 16.4 million (64%) were taking antiretroviral therapy in 2018. Those people now risk having their treatment interrupted because HIV services are closed or are unable to supply antiretroviral therapy because of disruptions to the supply chain or because services simply become overwhelmed due to competing needs to support the COVID-19 response.

“The COVID-19 pandemic must not be an excuse to divert investment from HIV,” said Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “There is a risk that the hard-earned gains of the AIDS response will be sacrificed to the fight against COVID-19, but the right to health means that no one disease should be fought at the expense of the other.”

When treatment is adhered to, a person’s HIV viral load drops to an undetectable level, keeping that person healthy and preventing onward transmission of the virus. When a person is unable to take antiretroviral therapy regularly, the viral load increases, impacting the person’s health, which can ultimately lead to death. Even relatively short-term interruptions to treatment can have a significant negative impact on a person’s health and potential to transmit HIV.

This research brought together five teams of modellers using different mathematical models to analyse the effects of various possible disruptions to HIV testing, prevention and treatment services caused by COVID-19.

Each model looked at the potential impact of treatment disruptions of three months or six months on AIDS mortality and HIV incidence in sub-Saharan Africa. In the six-month disruption scenario, estimates of excess AIDS-related deaths in one year ranged from 471 000 to 673 000, making it inevitable that the world will miss the global 2020 target of fewer than 500 000 AIDS-related deaths worldwide.

Shorter disruptions of three months would see a reduced but still significant impact on HIV deaths. More sporadic interruptions of antiretroviral therapy supply would lead to sporadic adherence to treatment, leading to the spread of HIV drug resistance, with long-term consequences for future treatment success in the region.

Disrupted services could also reverse gains made in preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Since 2010, new HIV infections among children in sub-Saharan Africa have declined by 43%, from 250 000 in 2010 to 140 000 in 2018, owing to the high coverage of HIV services for mothers and their children in the region. Curtailment of these services by COVID-19 for six months could see new child HIV infections rise drastically, by as much as 37% in Mozambique, 78% in Malawi, 78% in Zimbabwe and 104% in Uganda.

Other significant effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the AIDS response in sub-Saharan Africa that could lead to additional mortality include reduced quality clinical care owing to health facilities becoming overstretched and a suspension of viral load testing, reduced adherence counselling and drug regimen switches. Each model also considered the extent to which a disruption to prevention services, including suspension of voluntary medical male circumcision, interruption of condom availability and suspension of HIV testing, would impact HIV incidence in the region.

The research highlights the need for urgent efforts to ensure the continuity of HIV prevention and treatment services in order to avert excess HIV-related deaths and to prevent increases in HIV incidence during the COVID-19 pandemic. It will be important for countries to prioritize shoring up supply chains and ensuring that people already on treatment are able to stay on treatment, including by adopting or reinforcing policies such as multimonth dispensing of antiretroviral therapy in order to reduce requirements to access health-care facilities for routine maintenance, reducing the burden on overwhelmed health-care systems.

“Every death is a tragedy,” added Ms Byanyima. “We cannot sit by and allow hundreds of thousands of people, many of them young, to die needless deaths. I urge governments to ensure that every man, women and child living with HIV gets regular supplies of antiretroviral therapy—something that’s literally a life-saver.”



Jewell B, Mudimu E, Stover J, et al for the HIV Modelling consortium, Potential effects of disruption to HIV programmes in sub-Saharan Africa caused by COVID-19: results from multiple models. Pre-print, https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.12279914.v1, https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.12279932.v1.


Alexandra B. Hogan, Britta Jewell, Ellie Sherrard-Smith et al. The potential impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on HIV, TB and malaria in low- and middle-income countries. Imperial College London (01-05-2020). doi: https://doi.org/10.25561/78670.




The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organizations—UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank—and works closely with global and national partners towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Learn more at unaids.org and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.



The World Health Organization provides global leadership in public health within the United Nations system. Founded in 1948, WHO works with 194 Member States, across six regions and from more than 150 offices, to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable. Our goal for 2019-2023 is to ensure that a billion more people have universal health coverage, to protect a billion more people from health emergencies, and provide a further billion people with better health and wellbeing.


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OPINION - Amid COVID-19, communities continue fight against other pandemics

by Linda Mafu | The Global Fund
Monday, 11 May 2020 12:09 GMT
We show how coronavirus is impacting the lives of vulnerable people globally.

* Any views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Community groups play a key role in tackling disease outbreaks such as the new coronavirus

Linda Mafu is the head of political and civil society advocacy at the Global Fund.

At the International AIDS conference in 2000 I joined an activist community that barreled through the streets of Durban demanding universal access to HIV treatment. At the time, the treatment was only accessible to the rich – it cost more than US$10,000 to treat one person per year.

As terror caused by AIDS swept through Africa in the 1990s, there emerged an activist community that demanded action to save friends and family from dying. The community sought to break the silence and to shame those in power who were indifferent to AIDS. It is that community that I marched with that July day in 2000. That movement, which brought together communities from across Africa and beyond, has been credited with accelerating progress against HIV and saving millions of lives.

The same urgency, action and resilience by communities are also saving lives in African countries as the fight against COVID-19 collides with the fight against other life-threatening diseases such as HIV, TB and malaria. Communities are offering their services as primary caregivers, advocates, and as the links between the formal health care system and the marginalized people.

Many have projected that the new coronavirus could infect and kill hundreds of thousands in Africa and other regions that are less resourced. If these areas are to evade the catastrophe, it will be in no small part due to the contribution of communities, which are using lessons from the fight against epidemics such as HIV, TB, malaria and Ebola to fight COVID-19.

In South Africa, more than 30,000 community health workers move door to door, taking down people’s travel histories, temperatures and other risk factors, identifying the coronavirus infections before they come to health care facilities. In Ethiopia, the country has deployed its 40,000 community health workers – who provide education and primary care for existing illnesses like malaria – in cities and remote villages to monitor new cases, educate community members and promote hygiene in the fight against COVID-19. In Nigeria, community health workers engaged in the fight against polio have taken on COVID-19 detection. Decades of investments in community health systems are paying off in the fight against COVID-19.

We have also seen communities quickly adapt to attend to old pandemics despite the lockdowns imposed because of COVID-19. In Benin, as people can no longer gather in community centers to collect the mosquito nets that protect their families against malaria, community leaders and more than 5,000 health workers are distributing the nets door to door. In Uganda, health workers are visiting HIV-positive mothers and pregnant women to make sure they continue to receive the medicine they need to prevent passing the virus to their babies. Other countries are looking to borrow these approaches to ensure the fight continues against HIV, TB and malaria while tackling the new threat of COVID-19.  

The recent Ebola outbreaks in West and Central Africa highlighted the importance of community involvement to link national or global responses to communities suspicious of outsiders; community health workers and local leaders were critical in negotiating access for international health workers to fight the outbreak. Those insights that utilize communities’ local, social and cultural structures are coming in handy in the fight against COVID-19. In DRC, which is also battling an Ebola outbreak, trusted town criers and radio stations share critical information about how to protect against the new virus.

As COVID-19 spreads, we have seen incidents where authorities in some countries have violated the rights of marginalized populations such as men who have sex with men and sex workers. Such acts have the potential of driving such populations underground, away from the health services they need in the fight against COVID-19, as well as other diseases. To tackle that challenge, we must ensure that these communities continue to play a central role in the development and delivery of health services.

As communities organize themselves to take the lead in prevention of the new coronavirus through health promotion and care, screening and tracing of contacts, they are making a clear case for more investments in community health systems. They are underlining the fact that to defeat COVID-19, as well as other future pandemics in low- and middle-income countries it will take a whole-community approach. It will take a village.



Edited by tan_lejos_tan_cerca
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#ONEWorld stories of solidarity are showing that #COVID19 is a global virus that pays no attention to borders, wealth, or status.

Trina shares how simple acts like banging pots and pans from balconies during hospital staff shift changeover is uniting everyone during the global fight against COVID-19.

Is something similar happening in your community that you would like to shine a light on? Share your Stories of Solidarity in the comments below, and read Trina's full story:

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LIVE TODAY! Join us in just under an hour for #ONEWorld COVID-19 in Africa - a discussion about how COVID-19 is affecting life in Africa and what Canada is doing to support a Global Pandemic Response Plan.
Guests include 🇨🇦 Minister of International Development Karina Gould, 🇳🇬journalist Peter Nkanga, 🇳🇬Director for @ONEinAfrica, Serah Makka-Ugbabe and host Sangita Patel
We will also be hearing from our ONE Champions and Supporters Watch at 11AM ET / 4PM WAT /BST and ask your questions in the comments. http://buff.ly/2yZmAnT
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TODAY: Join us Live for our exclusive Facebook panel with the Minister of International Development Karina Gould 🇨🇦 , Nigerian Journalist Peter Nkanga 🇳🇬 and Director for ONE Africa, Serah Ugbabe 🇳🇬
TV personality Sangita Patel will host a discussion on how COVID-19 is affecting life in Africa and what Canada is doing to support a global response plan as part of #ONEWorld
Tune in 11AM Eastern Time / 4PM West Africa and British Summer Time.

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Coronavirus pandemic could contribute to surge of other deadly diseases, experts warn

Jennifer Hansler

By Jennifer Hansler and Nicole Gaouette, CNN


Updated 1120 GMT (1920 HKT) May 8, 2020

Covid-19 explained: How it spreads and how to stay safe







Covid-19 explained: How it spreads and how to stay safe 07:18

Washington (CNN)Cases of malaria, HIV/AIDS and other diseases could surge worldwide in coming months as global health systems rally to battle the coronavirus pandemic, global health experts tell CNN.

More than half a dozen experts and humanitarian aid officials, some of whom served in the US government, expressed concern that the virus that has already claimed more than 268,000 lives could have devastating ripple effects on broader global health and security.
These experts worry about backslides against diseases like tuberculosis and measles and warned of the potential for widespread famine, as humanitarian organizations seek to balance their response to the outbreak with their efforts to combat ongoing challenges.
"If you don't get Covid-19 but die of malaria, obviously you're no better off. All that work cannot just stop because the attention shifted elsewhere, it must continue," said Bill O'Keefe, the executive vice president for Mission, Mobilization and Advocacy at Catholic Relief Services.

'We have to find a way to continue'

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The battle will play out on many fronts and require a response on them all, said Gayle Smith, the President and CEO of the ONE Campaign, an advocacy group fighting extreme poverty and preventable disease.
"The pointy end of this crisis is the pandemic, but the ripple effects on broader public health, on food security, on local economies, on macroeconomies is such that we've got to have a multifaceted response to it," Smith said. "Otherwise, you solve something over here and then you catch your breath and you look over and you've got another crisis on your hands on the other side."
O'Keefe said his organization had been "really ridiculously busy" and was able to adapt work like malaria bed net distribution for the pandemic. However, others who spoke to CNN said there was already evidence that health treatments are being affected by closures, lockdowns, supply chain disruptions and even fear of going to medical establishments.
In India, health workers have seen an almost 80% drop in daily tuberculosis notifications, and "it's not because it's not spreading, it's because we don't know about it because people won't, are not using services," said Amanda Glassman, executive vice president and senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, which works to reduce poverty in developing countries.
Smith said there was "anecdotal evidence already emerging" of clinic closures, leaving people being unable to access services.
"Some of the field work that is done because of lockdowns in various places has been interrupted," she said.
Glassman told CNN that "we have to find a way to continue to sustain the other really essential health services or we're going to be stuck with a worse health situation than we began with."
Experts warn disruptions in immunization campaigns could have devastating consequences. Smith, a former US Agency for International Development (USAID) administrator, noted that there were resurgences of measles and malaria during the Ebola epidemic.
"Our community's concerned about the impacts in countries that are battling measles, cholera, polio, outbreaks like that at the same time that they have to contend with the spread of Covid-19," said Noam Unger, the vice president for development policy, advocacy and learning at InterAction, an alliance of international NGOs and partners.
In late March, the World Health Organization recommended that governments "temporarily pause preventive immunization campaigns where there is no active outbreak of a vaccine-preventable disease."
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said last week there had been a 70% to 80% drop in vaccine shipments from late March because of logistical constraints related to the pandemic.
UNICEF spokesperson Marixie Mercado said dozens of countries were at risk of running out of supplies, including at least five countries that experienced measles outbreaks in 2019.
"Disruptions in routine immunization campaigns, particularly in countries with weak health systems, could lead to disastrous outbreaks in 2020 and well beyond," she said.
The Measles and Rubella Initiative -- which is comprised of the American Red Cross, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the WHO, the UN Foundation, and UNICEF -- estimates that 117 million children are at risk of missing their measles vaccine due to the pandemic.

Hit with 'greater ferocity'

Many developing countries are already at a disadvantage when it comes to fighting the coronavirus, experts told CNN, and the secondary consequences of the outbreak -- like supply chain disruptions and staffing shortages -- could be devastating.
"Globally, 42% of health care facilities don't have hand hygiene at the point of care. Only 55% of health care facilities even have access to basic water services," InterAction's Unger said.
Steve Morrison, director of the Global Health Policy Center at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, noted that lower income countries already display a "lack of preparation across the board in terms of protective gear for providers, in terms of test kits, vials, in terms of systems that can do screening and contact tracing, provide oxygen at facilities."
And the global economic slowdown will hit these trade-dependent countries with "greater ferocity," he said, likely leaving them even less able to get the supplies needed to protect their health workers.
In early April, the US froze shipments of PPE abroad due to critical shortages in the US. A State Department spokesperson said this week that the US, "through the generosity of the American people and the innovation of our world-beating private industry, is providing medical supplies and ventilators to countries that need them to fight Covid-19."
Morrison said that those who study global health also worry about cuts in funding for other diseases and health challenges.
"There's fear that funding will fall because of the colossal cost of Covid. There will be stress on donors," he told CNN.
The State Department spokesperson told CNN that "within current funding levels, USAID is adjusting its Global Health activities to support the Covid response, given (the) new operating environment," but did not give further specifics about the adjustments.
O'Keefe said being ready for the risk of insecurity, damage to livelihoods and health threats in the rest of the world will mean, "in part, providing adequate funding in a flexible way."
The ONE Campaign's Smith said that means resources for Covid shouldn't drain other funding. "Absolutely our hope is that resources for Covid will be additional. ... We have to fight this pandemic, but if, while we're fighting this pandemic, we see the erosion of public health or other development gains, then we're ultimately taking a step backwards."
Advocates hope Congress will include at least $12 billion in international assistance in their next supplemental package.
Nancy Lindborg, the president and CEO of the US Institute of Peace, noted that amount is "a tiny fraction" compared to the trillions spent or allocated to fight the pandemic, "but a very useful fraction for safeguarding a more secure healthier future for the world, but also for the United States."

'Big, big, big, big, big, big concern'

Another "big, big, big, big, big, big concern," O'Keefe said, are fears of widespread global food insecurity.
The UN has said the world is already facing multiple famines of "biblical proportions" and that the pandemic could push an additional 130 million people to the brink of starvation.
Lindborg said she was particularly concerned about the Horn of Africa, where countries are also facing drought and swarms of locusts.
"It is quite possible that they'll tip into famine, large swaths of that region. And having worked the famine of 2011, I would hope never to have large scale famine happen again," Lindborg, a former senior official at USAID, said. "I mean those famines are a truly terrible additional loss of life. So you've got you've got the possibility of large scale death, both from disease, but also from hunger."
She also expressed concern about "conflict-affected places like Yemen, Syria, the Sahel, where you've got drought, coupled with rising violent extremism."
"What Covid does is it just stresses all these places that were already pretty stressed, that needed a lot of help already ... and then cranks up the pressure," Lindborg said.
Despite the broad challenges, ONE Campaign's Smith said, "there's some very good signs that there are efforts underway to protect the gains that have been made over the past many years."
She pointed to efforts by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which "is in fact about walking and chewing gum at the same time, continuing their work on HIV AIDS and malaria, but they've also set up the facility and put their own resources into fighting Covid at the same time."
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