We cannot fight a global pandemic without global solutions. Take Haiti, the poorest nation in the western world, with a human development index ranking in the bottom 20 countries in 2019. A healthcare system as fragile as Haiti’s is worse equipped to handle the coronavirus pandemic than wealthier, more stable countries. In the past month, cases in Haiti have spiked from 100 to over 6,500, with only two laboratories available in the country to process tests.
In Yemen, COVID-19 has been another wound to the country’s ongoing food insecurity, due to which the UN food relief agency states 10 million Yemenis are “one step away from famine.” The virus has led to a dramatic reduction in foreign aid provided to Yemen, as most countries are focused on the well-being of their own citizens. The negative impacts on both Haiti and Yemen’s food security, hygiene and sanitation, and health services have been dire and deadly.
Health equity has never been more important than it is right now. Proud as we are of our global efforts and international reputation, Canada can do more to ensure global access to medicines to fight COVID-19, as well as growing humanitarian crises across the globe. Lending a helping hand not only supports Canadian interests in security, trade, migration, health and economic stability, but supports human dignity. We need to invest one per cent of our COVID-19 response efforts in global aid, and should commit to a lasting increase in Canadian Aid through Official Development Assistance so that vulnerable countries with humanitarian crises have the services they need, and no one is left behind.