The Sentinel

Human Rights Action :: Humanitarian Response :: Health :: Education :: Heritage Stewardship ::
Sustainable Development
__________________________________________________
Week ending 11 April 2020 :: Number 312

This weekly digest is intended to aggregate and distill key content from a broad spectrum of practice domains and organization types including key agencies/IGOs, NGOs, governments, academic and research institutions, consortia and collaborations, foundations, and commercial organizations. We also monitor a spectrum of peer-reviewed journals and general media channels. The Sentinel’s geographic scope is global/regional but selected country-level content is included. We recognize that this spectrum/scope yields an indicative and not an exhaustive product. Comments and suggestions should be directed to:

David R. Curry
Editor
GE2P2 Global Foundation – Governance, Evidence, Ethics, Policy, Practice
david.r.curry@ge2p2center.net

PDF:The Sentinel_ period ending 11 Apr 2020

Contents
:: Week in Review  [See selected posts just below]
:: Key Agency/IGO/Governments Watch – Selected Updates from 30+ entities   [see PDF]
:: INGO/Consortia/Joint Initiatives Watch – Media Releases, Major Initiatives, Research:: Foundation/Major Donor Watch -Selected Updates
:: Journal Watch – Key articles and abstracts from 100+ peer-reviewed journals  [see PDF]

World Faces ‘Gravest Test’ since Founding of United Nations, Secretary-General Tells Security Council, Calling for Unity to Address COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID-19 :: United Nations Response

World Faces ‘Gravest Test’ since Founding of United Nations, Secretary-General Tells Security Council, Calling for Unity to Address COVID-19 Pandemic
9 April 2020 SG/SM/20041
Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to the Security Council on the COVID-19 pandemic, in New York, today:
Thank you for convening this important discussion. The world faces its gravest test since the founding of this Organization. Every country is now grappling with or poised to suffer the devastating consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic: the tens of thousands of lost lives; the broken families; the overwhelmed hospitals; the overworked essential workers.

We are all struggling to absorb the unfolding shock: the jobs that have disappeared and businesses that have suffered; the fundamental and drastic shift to our daily lives; and the fear that the worst is still yet to come, especially in the developing world and countries already battered by armed conflict.

While the COVID-19 pandemic is first and foremost a health crisis, its implications are much more far-reaching. We are already seeing its ruinous social and economic impacts, as Governments around the world struggle to find the most effective responses to rising unemployment and the economic downturn. But, the pandemic also poses a significant threat to the maintenance of international peace and security — potentially leading to an increase in social unrest and violence that would greatly undermine our ability to fight the disease.

My concerns are many and widespread, but let me identify eight risks that are particularly pressing.

First, the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to further erode trust in public institutions, particularly if citizens perceive that their authorities mishandled the response or are not transparent on the scope of the crisis.

Second, the economic fallout of this crisis could create major stressors, particularly in fragile societies, less developed countries and those in transition. Economic instability will have particularly devastating impacts for women, who make up the vast majority of those sectors worst affected. The large numbers of female-headed households in conflict settings are especially vulnerable to economic shocks.

Third, the postponement of elections or referenda, or the decision to proceed with a vote – even with mitigation measures – can create political tensions and undermine legitimacy. Such decisions are best made following broad consultation aimed at consensus. This is not a time for political opportunism.

Fourth, in some conflict settings, the uncertainty created by the pandemic may create incentives for some actors to promote further division and turmoil. This could lead to an escalation of violence and possibly devastating miscalculations, which could further entrench ongoing wars and complicate efforts to fight the pandemic.

Fifth, the threat of terrorism remains alive. Terrorist groups may see a window of opportunity to strike while the attention of most Governments is turned towards the pandemic. The situation in the Sahel, where people face the double scourge of the virus and escalating terrorism, is of particular concern.

Sixth, the weaknesses and lack of preparedness exposed by this pandemic provide a window onto how a bioterrorist attack might unfold and may increase its risks. Non-State groups could gain access to virulent strains that could pose similar devastation to societies around the globe.

Seventh, the crisis has hindered international, regional and national conflict resolution efforts, exactly when they are needed most. Many peace processes have stalled as the world responds to COVID-19. Our good offices and mediation engagements have felt the impact. Restrictions on movement may continue to affect the work of various confidence-based mechanisms, as well as our ability to engage in crisis diplomacy to de-escalate potential conflicts.

Eighth, the pandemic is triggering or exacerbating various human rights challenges. We are seeing stigma, hate speech, and white supremacists and other extremists seeking to exploit the situation. We are witnessing discrimination in accessing health services. Refugees and internally displaced persons are particularly vulnerable. And there are growing manifestations of authoritarianism, including limits on the media, civic space and freedom of expression.

Recognizing the unprecedented challenge we face, on 23 March I called for an immediate global ceasefire. I urged all warring parties to silence the guns in order to help create conditions for the delivery of aid, open up space for diplomacy and bring hope to places among the most vulnerable to the pandemic.

I have been encouraged by the support that my call has received around the globe, from Heads of State and Government to regional partners, civil society activists and religious leaders. From South America to Africa and from the Middle East to Asia we have seen conflict parties take some initial steps to end violence and fight the pandemic.

Still, we must remain cautious, as any gains are fragile and easily reversible, as conflicts have festered for years, distrust is deep, and there are many spoilers. Moving from good intentions to implementation will require a concerted international effort. And in many of the most critical situations, we have seen no let-up in fighting, and some conflicts have even intensified.

My special representatives and envoys will continue to engage with conflict actors to help make sure that ceasefires are implemented and that they pave the way towards lasting political solutions. I also welcome efforts being made by other mediation actors. Despite the difficulties of convening parties for direct talks, we are using digital tools where we can to open and maintain channels of communication and to de-escalate crises…

…The humanitarian community, for its part, has mobilized swiftly in response to the crisis in close cooperation with the World Health Organization. Two weeks ago, I launched the COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan, focusing on needs in countries already facing a humanitarian crisis. The Central Emergency Response Fund has allocated $75 million, and, as of two days ago, the Plan had received $396.5 million.

I wish to highlight three priority areas where further support and action are needed.

First, ensuring humanitarian access and opening corridors for the safe and timely movement of goods and personnel.

Second, mobilizing strong and flexible funding for the COVID-19 Response Plan and existing humanitarian appeals. Resources for one should not replace or divert from the other.

Third, protecting the most vulnerable populations and those least able to protect themselves. International humanitarian, human rights and refugee law continue to apply, even – and especially – in challenging times like these.

The engagement of the Security Council will be critical to mitigate the peace and security implications of the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, a signal of unity and resolve from the Council would count for a lot at this anxious time. We all recall the crucial role the Council played in marshalling the international community’s response to the security implications of the HIV/AIDS crisis and the Ebola outbreak.

To prevail against the pandemic today, we will need to work together. That means heightened solidarity. And it means having the necessary resources. The financial situation of the United Nations remains perilous, and we have only enough cash to fund peacekeeping operations through the end of June and limited capacity to pay troop- and police-contributing countries.

This is the fight of a generation — and the raison d’être of the United Nations itself. I offer condolences to all countries for their losses from the disease, and reiterate my commitment to working with all of you to meet this all-encompassing test.
Thank you.

Joint Leader’s statement – Violence against children: A hidden crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic

COVID-19 Violence Against Children

Joint Leader’s statement – Violence against children: A hidden crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic
8 April 2020 Statement
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a devastating impact across the world. Efforts to contain the coronavirus are vital to the health of the world’s population, but they are also exposing children to increased risk of violence – including maltreatment, gender-based violence and sexual exploitation.

As leaders of organisations committed to ending violence against children, we come together in solidarity to share our deep concern, call for action and pledge our support to protect children from violence and reduce the impact of COVID-19 on children in every country and community.

A third of the global population is on COVID-19 lockdown, and school closures have impacted more than 1.5 billion children. Movement restrictions, loss of income, isolation, overcrowding and high levels of stress and anxiety are increasing the likelihood that children experience and observe physical, psychological and sexual abuse at home – particularly those children already living in violent or dysfunctional family situations. And while online communities have become central to maintain many children’s learning, support and play, it is also increasing their exposure to cyberbullying, risky online behavior and sexual exploitation.

The situation is aggravated by children’s lack of access to schoolfriends, teachers, social workers and the safe space and services that schools provide. The most vulnerable children – including refugees, migrants, and children who are internally displaced, deprived of liberty, living without parental care, living on the street and in urban slums, with disabilities, and living in conflict-affected areas – are a particular concern. For many, growing economic vulnerability will increase the threat of child labour, child marriage and child trafficking.

We must act now. Together, we call on governments, the international community and leaders in every sector to urgently respond with a united effort to protect children from the heightened risk of violence, exploitation and abuse as part of the broader response to COVID-19.

Governments have a central role to play. They must ensure that COVID-19 prevention and response plans integrate age appropriate and gender sensitive measures to protect all children from violence, neglect and abuse. Child protection services and workers must be designated as essential and resourced accordingly.

Working with and supporting governments, our collective response must include: maintaining essential health and social welfare services, including mental health and psychosocial support; providing child protection case management and emergency alternative care arrangements; ensuring social protection for the most vulnerable children and households; continuing care and protection for children in institutions; and communicating with and engaging parents, caregivers and children themselves with evidence-based information and advice. National helplines, school counsellors and other child-friendly reporting mechanisms enable children in distress to reach out for help, and must be adapted to the challenges of COVID-19.

Given the heightened risks of online harms, technology companies and telecoms providers must do everything they can to keep children safe online. This includes providing access to cost-free child helplines, age-appropriate services and safe e-education platforms – and using their platforms to share child online safety advice. They must also do more to detect and stop harmful activity against children online, including grooming and the creation and distribution of child sexual abuse images and videos.
As global organisations working to end violence against children, we will continue to advocate for and invest in effective child protection solutions. We will collectively develop and share technical resources and guidance for policymakers, practitioners, parents, caregivers and children themselves. And we will support the courageous health, child protection and humanitarian professionals working around the clock to keep children safe during these unprecedented times.

In recent years, the global community has made significant gains in protecting children from violence. We must not allow those gains to be lost during the current turmoil. We must do all we can to keep children safe now. And we must plan ahead together, so that once the immediate health crisis is over, we can get back on track towards the goal of ending all forms of violence, abuse and neglect of children

Signatories image at title link above

COVID-19 :: Migrants, Refugees – Joint statement by IRC, MMC and DRC

Migrants, Refugees

Joint statement by IRC, MMC and DRC
The Danish Refugee Council, the International Rescue Committee and the Mixed Migration Center call for governments and local authorities to protect the lives of all, regardless of status, and to ensure all migrants and refugees are equally included in all phases of the emergency response to COVID-19.
10.04.20
The journey along the Central Mediterranean Route is a highly dangerous one that many migrants and refugees undertake to seek safety, security and a better future.

In 2019, thousands of lives were lost along this route at sea and in the desert. As governments are shutting borders and limiting cross-border movements to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, migrants and refugees have found themselves de facto left behind.

Some find themselves abandoned at borders by smugglers, others in need of international protection are denied access to safe countries, and thousands of others are stuck in limbo or in crowded and unhygienic detention facilities in Libya, Niger, and Mali.

As humanitarian agencies working with refugees, migrants and asylum seekers in countries along the route – Libya, Niger and Mali – we are calling for governments and local authorities to protect the lives of all, regardless of status, and to ensure all migrants and refugees are equally included in all phases of the emergency response.

To ensure an effective response to COVID-19 while adhering to obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law, governments must safeguard access to asylum and respect the principle of non-refoulement.

Migrants and refugees in need of international protection should never be returned. It is imperative that governments do not misemploy extraordinary measures to contain the spread of the pandemic in order to evade their accountability and responsibility towards people in need of protection.
Libya, Niger and Mali have already reported a number of COVID-19 cases.

In these fragile countries, health care systems are weak and response capacities are limited. Migrants and refugees have limited access to existing services; this health emergency will further limit the support they receive.

Moreover, thousands of migrants, refugees and the communities hosting them live in poor conditions in overcrowded ghettos or in detention facilities, which puts them at high risk of exposure. There are still approximately 1,500 migrants and refugees in Libya’s official detention centers living with poor hygiene conditions, limited food and at risk of abuse, rape, forced labor and trafficking.

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, and in line with international human rights standards, detained migrants and refugees must be urgently released. Authorities must ensure their safety and include all migrants and refugees in appropriate preparedness and prevention measures while long-term solutions are sought.

“Despite the COVID-19 preventive measures authorities have put in place and in the midst of escalating violence, our partners are continuing to provide emergency and primary medical assistance to migrants and refugees in health clinics around Tripoli. Meanwhile, our IRC team in Niger has adapted to a remote approach providing case management support by phone, and our DRC team has developed a mixed approach combining remote modalities in Bamako, where most COVID-19 cases are reported, with continued field engagement in other areas such as Mopti and Gao. In all locations, our teams maintain continued communication with community focal points by phone. Now more than ever we need to stand in solidarity with people at risk and ensure unimpeded humanitarian access to the people we serve who would otherwise become even more ‘invisible’ ”, says Hara Caracostas, Head of the Central Mediterranean Mixed Migration Consortium.

An increasing number of people evacuated from Libya to Niger since 2017 remain forgotten as they await European countries to deliver on their resettlement pledges. Thus far, 18% of the total pledges have been met.

Many others, including those who are forcibly expelled from Algeria, are stranded in transit centers and across Niger due to the COVID-19 pandemic as their only option to go back home, through Voluntary Humanitarian Returns, have been indefinitely postponed as borders remain closed.
Those who wish to get back, should be able to reach their homes and agencies together with governments must look into viable options to make this happen.

In this respect, we are calling on:
:: UNSC and other states with influence to work with the parties to the conflict in Libya to secure a cessation of hostilities and press parties to agree to a ceasefire, in line with the UN Secretary-General’s global ceasefire call.

:: Governments of Libya, Niger and Mali to preserve unimpeded humanitarian access and facilitate movements of essential staff. This enables humanitarian and other relevant organisations to provide emergency health assistance and support to local health systems in order to respond to the needs of all refugees and migrants, as well as vulnerable host communities, during the COVID 19 emergency.

:: All governments along the Central Mediterranean Route to uphold respect for fundamental principles of international human rights and refugee law, including the principle of non-refoulement.
To this end:
A. The immediate orderly release of migrants and refugees from detention must be guaranteed while long-term alternatives to detention are sought; meanwhile, alternative accommodation should be provided to ensure their safety and protection.
B. In cases where the quarantine of migrants and refugees is enforced, such as in Niger, this must be carried out in a dignified and safe manner; this includes guaranteeing that the spaces used are not crowded, provide decent sanitary conditions and access to basic services.
C. Interceptions at sea must stop and those already disembarked in Libya must not be brought to detention facilities. Migrants should be released in conditions that allow them to apply appropriate COVID-19 prevention measures and have access to much needed humanitarian assistance.

:: Governments of Libya, Niger and Mali and all humanitarian actors engaged in the COVID-19 response to consistently adopt a conflict sensitive approach to this emergency. This will ensure actions taken do not cause nor fuel intra/inter-communal tensions, due to heightened risks of stigma, discrimination linked to the spread of the virus. Sensible, transparent and factual communication with all communities affected will be key in this matter.

:: Donors to guarantee flexibility of funds to implementing partners, including UN agencies and INGOs, especially in countries along migratory and displacement routes. Donors must urgently put flexible funding behind multilateral UN efforts – a good first step is the UN’s Global Humanitarian Response Plan (GHRP) for COVID-19 – serving the most vulnerable, and ensuring refugees, women and other groups are not left behind. At least 30% of this funding should be directed to frontline NGOs, already positioned to scale up in local communities. More funding must also be made available depending on the needs and reflecting the evolution of the crisis and needs on the ground. No funds should be redirected from equally critical sectors in order to fill in current and future gaps.

Emergencies – Coronavirus [COVID-19]

EMERGENCIES

Coronavirus [COVID-19]
Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)

Editor’s Note:
We certainly recognize the velocity of global developments in the COVID-19 pandemic. While we have concentrated the most current key reports just below, COVID-19 announcements, analysis and commentary will be found throughout this issue, in all sections.
Beyond the considerable continuing coverage in the global general media, the WHO’s authoritative guidance is available here:
:: Daily WHO situation reports here: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports
:: WHO Coronavirus disease (COVID-2019) daily press briefings here: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/media-resources/press-briefings

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Situation report – 81 [WHO]

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
10 April 2020
[Excerpts]
SITUATION IN NUMBERS
Globally
1 521 252 confirmed (85 054)
92 798 deaths (7277)

European Region
799 696 confirmed (40 035)
66 213 deaths (4697)

Region of the Americas
493 173 confirmed (38 463)
17 038 deaths (2264)

Western Pacific Region
117 247 confirmed (1395)
3978 deaths (34)

Eastern Mediterranean Region
88 657 confirmed (3307)
4607 deaths (148)

South-East Asia Region
12 978 confirmed (1402)
569 deaths (101)

African Region
8789 confirmed (452)
382 deaths (33)

WHO RISK ASSESSMENT
Global Level – Very High

HIGHLIGHTS
:: No new country/territory/area reported cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.

:: Dr. Bruce Aylward, Special Adviser to WHO’s Director-General, speaking of his recent mission to Spain at a press briefing yesterday, highlighted the need for countries to understand that the virus can overwhelm even the most robust health systems, resulting in the need to entirely reconfigure health sectors in response. Find more about Dr. Aylward’s recent fact-finding mission to Spain here.

: OpenWHO, a web-based learning platform, has launched a new online course Introduction to Go.Data – Field data collection, chains of transmission and contact follow-up. The Go.Data tool supports outbreak investigation, focusing on field data collection, contact tracing and visualisation of chains of transmission. It is available to WHO staff around the world, Member States and partners. For more information, please see here.

:: As the number of cases continues to climb in Europe, two new WHO tools launched today will help health planners in the European Region prepare for the rapidly increasing number of patients with COVID-19 requiring acute and intensive care in hospitals. For more details, please see here.

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Emergencies – Ebola

Emergencies

Ebola – DRC+
Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)

Ebola Outbreak in DRC 87: 07 April 2020
[Excerpts]
Situation Update WHO Health Emergencies Programme Page 2
Since 17 February, there have been no new cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) reported from Democratic Republic of the Congo. This is a positive sign; however, there is still a high risk of re-emergence of EVD, and challenges related to limited resources, continued insecurity, population displacement in previous hotspots and limited access to some affected communities. It is essential to maintain surveillance and response activities…

…Conclusion
Given the challenges related to continued insecurity and population displacement in previous hotspots and potential shortages of resources required to carry out response activities amid other local and global emergencies, there remains a high risk of re-emergence of EVD in the period leading up to the declaration of the end of the outbreak, as well as for several months following that declaration. In order to mitigate the risk of re-emergence, it is critical to maintain surveillance and rapid detection and response capacities, prioritize survivor care, and maintain cooperative relationships with survivors’ associations.

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New Ebola case confirmed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
10 April 2020 News release
A new case of Ebola virus disease was confirmed today in the city of Beni in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
“While not welcome news, this is an event we anticipated. We kept response teams in Beni and other high risk areas for precisely this reason,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General…
…The news of the confirmed case came minutes after the conclusion of a meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on Ebola in DRC. The Emergency Committee will reconvene next week in order to re-evaluate their recommendations in light of this new information…

Emergencies – POLIO

Emergencies

POLIO
Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)

Polio this week as of 08 April 2020
Summary of new viruses this week (AFP cases and ES positives):
:: Pakistan: one WPV1 case and 16 WPV1 positive environmental samples
:: Ghana: three cVDPV2 positive environmental samples
:: Central African Republic – one cVDPV2 case
:: Burkina Faso: two cVDPV2 cases
:: Côte d’Ivoire: one cVDPV2 case and two cVDPV2 positive environmental samples

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Statement of the Twenty-Fourth IHR Emergency Committee
8 April 2020 Statement
The Twenty-fourth meeting of the Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) on the international spread of poliovirus was convened by the Director General on 26 March 2020 with committee members only attending via teleconference, supported by the WHO Secretariat…
Reports were received from Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), Ethiopia, Ghana, Pakistan, and Philippines.
The Emergency Committee reviewed the data on wild poliovirus (WPV1) and circulating vaccine derived polioviruses (cVDPV).  The WHO Secretariat presented a report of progress for affected IHR States Parties subject to Temporary Recommendations.

Wild poliovirus
The Committee remains gravely concerned by the significant increase in WPV1 cases globally in 2019 and 2020, with 175 cases in 2019 compared to 33 in 2018, and already 32 cases as at 17 March 2020, compared to six for the same period in 2019, with no significant success yet in reversing this trend…

Vaccine derived poliovirus (VDPV)
The multiple circulating VDPV (cVDPV) outbreaks in four WHO regions (African, Eastern Mediterranean, South-east Asian and Western Pacific Regions) are very concerning, with two new countries reporting outbreaks since the last meeting (Malaysia and Burkina Faso).  Unlike historical experience, cross border spread of cVDPV2 has become quite common, with recent spread from Angola to DR Congo and Zambia, and from Chad and CAR to Cameroon, and from Ghana to Burkina Faso.  In addition, local emergences attributable to mOPV2 use have recently occurred in Togo, Chad and Ethiopia.
The Committee noted that the GPEI has published a strategy to address cVDPV2 outbreaks but was extremely concerned that the monovalent OPV2 stockpile was still depleted.  The Committee strongly supports the development and proposed Emergency Use Listing of the novel OPV2 vaccine which should become available mid-2020, and which it is hoped will result in no or very little seeding of further outbreaks.

Impact of COVID-19
The Committee noted the very recent policy guidance of the GPEI:
:: GPEI recommendations for countries during the COVID-19 pandemic. This document summarizes the recommendations from the Polio Oversight Board meeting on 24 March 2020 which calls for postponement of both preventive and outbreak response campaigns, while ensuring surveillance and nOPV2 development and roll out plans continue in full.
:: The COVID-19 Polio programme continuity plan. The operational guide was developed in collaboration with the regional polio eradication teams and the GPEI Partners to ensure essential GPEI functions continue, polio programme personnel and staff are kept safe, and to plan for a fast and effective resumption of polio eradication activities including supplementary immunization activities as soon as the public health situation with COVID-19 allows.
The Committee is extremely concerned about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the risk of heightened transmission of polio and consequently the potential for international spread and significant reversal of polio eradication.     

Conclusion
The Committee unanimously agreed that the risk of international spread of poliovirus remains a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and recommended the extension of Temporary Recommendations for a further three months.  However noting that some if not many international borders are closed to prevent  international spread of COVID-19, State Parties may not currently be able to enforce the Temporary Recommendations in all places. The Committee strongly urges countries subject to these recommendations to maintain a high state of readiness to implement them as soon as possible ensuring the continued safety of travelers as well as health professionals .  The Committee recognizes the concerns regarding the lengthy duration of the polio PHEIC, but concludes that the current situation is extraordinary, with clear ongoing risk of international spread and ongoing need for coordinated international response…

…Based on the current situation regarding WPV1 and cVDPV, and the reports provided by affected countries, the Director-General accepted the Committee’s assessment and on 7 April 2020 determined that the situation relating to poliovirus continues to constitute a PHEIC, with respect to WPV1 and cVDPV.  The Director-General endorsed the Committee’s recommendations for countries meeting the definition for ‘States infected with WPV1, cVDPV1 or cVDPV3 with potential risk for international spread’, ‘States infected with cVDPV2 with potential risk for international spread’ and for ‘States no longer infected by WPV1 or cVDPV, but which remain vulnerable to re-infection by WPV or cVDPV’ and extended the Temporary Recommendations under the IHR to reduce the risk of the international spread of poliovirus, effective 7 April 2020.

The Sentinel

Human Rights Action :: Humanitarian Response :: Health :: Education :: Heritage Stewardship ::
Sustainable Development
__________________________________________________
Week ending 4 April 2020 :: Number 311

This weekly digest is intended to aggregate and distill key content from a broad spectrum of practice domains and organization types including key agencies/IGOs, NGOs, governments, academic and research institutions, consortia and collaborations, foundations, and commercial organizations. We also monitor a spectrum of peer-reviewed journals and general media channels. The Sentinel’s geographic scope is global/regional but selected country-level content is included. We recognize that this spectrum/scope yields an indicative and not an exhaustive product. Comments and suggestions should be directed to:

David R. Curry
Editor
GE2P2 Global Foundation – Governance, Evidence, Ethics, Policy, Practice
david.r.curry@ge2p2center.net

PDF:The Sentinel_ period ending 4 Apr 2020

Contents
:: Week in Review  [See selected posts just below]
:: Key Agency/IGO/Governments Watch – Selected Updates from 30+ entities   [see PDF]
:: INGO/Consortia/Joint Initiatives Watch – Media Releases, Major Initiatives, Research:: Foundation/Major Donor Watch -Selected Updates
:: Journal Watch – Key articles and abstracts from 100+ peer-reviewed journals  [see PDF]

COVID-19 :: United Nations Response

COVID-19 :: United Nations Response

Shared responsibility, global solidarity: Responding to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19
United Nations
March 2020 :: 28 pages
INTRODUCTION
We are facing a global health crisis unlike any in the 75-year history of the United Nations — one that is killing people, spreading human suffering, and upending people’s lives. But this is much more than a health crisis. It is a human crisis. The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is attacking societies at their core..
…This report is a call to action, for the immediate health response required to suppress transmission of the virus to end the pandemic; and to tackle the many social and economic dimensions of this crisis. It is, above all, a call to focus on people – women, youth, low-wage workers, small and medium enterprises, the informal sector and on vulnerable groups who are already at risk…
CALL TO ACTION
The COVID-19 Pandemic is a defining moment for modern society, and history will judge the efficacy of our response not by the actions of any single set of government actors taken in isolation, but by the degree to which the response is coordinated globally across all sectors to the benefit of our human family.
The United Nations global footprint at the national level is an asset for the global community to be leveraged to deliver the ambition needed to win the war against the virus.
With the right actions, the COVID-19 pandemic can mark the rebirthing of society as we know it today to one where we protect present and future generations. It is the greatest test that we have faced since the formation of the United Nations, one that requires all actors -governments, academia, businesses, employers and workers’ organizations, civil society organizations, communities and individuals- to act in solidarity in new, creative, and deliberate ways for the common good and based on the core United Nations values that we uphold for humanity.

.

UN launches COVID-19 plan that could ‘defeat the virus and build a better world’
NEW YORK, 31 March 2020 – The UN Secretary-General António Guterres has launched a new plan to counter the potentially devastating socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, calling on everyone to “act together to lessen the blow to people”.

“The new coronavirus disease is attacking societies at their core, claiming lives and people’s livelihoods”, said the UN chief, pointing out that the potential longer-term effects on the global economy and individual countries are “dire”.

The new report, “Shared responsibility, global solidarity: Responding to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19“, describes the speed and scale of the outbreak, the severity of cases, and the societal and economic disruption of the coronavirus.

“COVID-19 is the greatest test that we have faced together since the formation of the United Nations,” underscored the UN chief.

“This human crisis demands coordinated, decisive, inclusive and innovative policy action from the world’s leading economies – and maximum financial and technical support for the poorest and most vulnerable people and countries.”

Guterres called for “an immediate coordinated health response to suppress transmission and end the pandemic” that “scales up health capacity for testing, tracing, quarantine and treatment, while keeping first responders safe, combined with measures to restrict movement and contact.”

He underscored that developed countries must assist those less developed, or potentially “face the nightmare of the disease spreading like wildfire in the global South with millions of deaths and the prospect of the disease re-emerging where it was previously suppressed”.

“Let us remember that we are only as strong as the weakest health system in our interconnected world”, he stressed.

In tackling the devastating social and economic dimensions of the crisis, the UN chief pushed for a focus on the most vulnerable by designing policies that, among other things, support providing health and unemployment insurance and social protections while also bolstering businesses to prevent bankruptcies and job losses.

Debt alleviation must also be a priority he said, noting that the UN is “fully mobilized” and is establishing a new multi-partner Trust Fund for COVID19 Response and Recovery to respond to the emergency and recover from the socio-economic shock.

“When we get past this crisis, which we will, we will face a choice”, said the UN chief, “we can go back to the world as it was before or deal decisively with those issues that make us all unnecessarily vulnerable to crises”.

Measures to cope with coronavirus impacts:
:: Global actions must include a stimulus package reaching double-digit percentage points of the world’s GDP, with explicit actions to boost the economies of developing countries.

:: Regional mobilization must examine impacts, monetary coordination, fiscal and social measures, while engaging with private financial sector to support businesses and addressing structural challenges.

:: National solidarity needs to prioritize social cohesion and provide fiscal stimulus for the most vulnerable along with support to small- and medium-sized enterprises, decent work and education.

The report includes estimates from a host of UN agencies.
According to the UN International Labour Organization (ILO), five to 25 million jobs will be eradicated, and the world will lose $860 billion to $3.4 trillion in labor income.

The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) projected a 30 to 40 per cent downward pressure on global foreign direct investment flows while the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) saw a 20–30 per cent decline in international arrivals.

Meanwhile, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) anticipated that 3.6 billion people will be offline and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) forecast that 1.5 billion students out of school.

The report calls for a large-scale, coordinated, comprehensive multilateral response that amounts to at least 10 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP) and warns that there is no time to lose in mounting the most robust, cooperative health response the world has ever seen.

In closing, Guterres called the pandemic “a defining moment for modern society”, saying the “history will judge the efficacy of the response not by the actions of any single set of government actors taken in isolation, but by the degree to which the response is coordinated globally across all sectors for the benefit of our human family”.

COVID-19 – Refugees, Migrants, Trafficked and Stateless Persons, Indigenous Groups

COVID-19 – Refugees, Migrants, Trafficked and Stateless Persons

The Rights and Health of Refugees, Migrants and Stateless Must be Protected in COVID-19 Response
2020-03-31 18:52
OHCHR, IOM, UNHCR and WHO – Joint Press Release
Geneva – In the face of the COVID-19 crisis, we are all vulnerable. The virus has shown that it does not discriminate – but many refugees, those forcibly displaced, the stateless and migrants are at heightened risk.

Three-quarters of the world’s refugees and many migrants are hosted in developing regions where health systems are already overwhelmed and under-capacitated. Many live in overcrowded camps, settlements, makeshift shelters or reception centers, where they lack adequate access to health services, clean water and sanitation.

The situation for refugees and migrants held in formal and informal places of detention, in cramped and unsanitary conditions, is particularly worrying. Considering the lethal consequences a COVID-19 outbreak would have, they should be released without delay. Migrant children and their families and those detained without a sufficient legal basis should be immediately released.

This disease can be controlled only if there is an inclusive approach which protects every individual’s rights to life and health. Migrants and refugees are disproportionately vulnerable to exclusion, stigma and discrimination, particularly when undocumented. To avert a catastrophe, governments must do all they can to protect the rights and the health of everyone. Protecting the rights and the health of all people will in fact help control the spread of the virus.

It is vital that everyone, including all migrants and refugees, are ensured equal access to health services and are effectively included in national responses to COVID-19, including prevention, testing and treatment. Inclusion will help not only to protect the rights of refugees and migrants, but will also serve to protect public health and stem the global spread of COVID-19.

While many nations protect and host refugee and migrant populations, they are often not equipped to respond to crises such as Covid-19. To ensure refugees and migrants have adequate access to national health services, States may need additional financial support. This is where the world’s financial institutions can play a leading role in making funds available.

While countries are closing their borders and limiting cross-border movements, there are ways to manage border restrictions in a manner which respects international human rights and refugee protection standards, including the principle of non-refoulement, through quarantine and health checks.

More than ever, as COVID-19 poses a global threat to our collective humanity, our primary focus should be on the preservation of life, regardless of status. This crisis demands a coherent, effective international approach that leaves no-one behind. At this crucial moment we all need to rally around a common objective, fighting this deadly virus. Many refugees, displaced, stateless people and migrants have skills and resources that can also be part of the solution.

We cannot allow fear or intolerance to undermine rights or compromise the effectiveness of responses to the global pandemic. We are all in this together. We can only defeat this virus when each and every one of us is protected.

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UN experts call on Governments to adopt urgent measures to protect migrants and trafficked persons in their response to COVID-19
GENEVA (3 April 2020) – States worldwide must urgently adopt inclusive measures aimed at protecting migrants and trafficked persons in their national response to COVID-19, such as prevention measures, testing, medical treatment, health services and social assistance, two UN human rights experts said today.

“States should also take steps towards the regularisation of undocumented migrants whenever necessary, in view of facilitating their access to health services during the fight against the pandemic,” said the UN Special Rapporteurs on migrants, Felipe González Morales, and on trafficking in persons, Maria Grazia Giammarinaro.

“Migrants in irregular situations, asylum seekers, exploited and trafficked persons may be particularly at risk of COVID-19 because their living or working environment may expose them to the virus without necessary protection,” they said.

“I am concerned that some migrants, including asylum seekers, do not have access to minimal protection against the contagion, not even clean water to wash their hands. Many live in overcrowded shelters or detention centres without the possibility to observe physical distance. Some migrants are working in agriculture or in informal sectors without any protection measures,” González Morales said.
“People who have been granted residence permits on grounds of trafficking and have a job or are participating in a training programme should be allowed to obtain work permits through facilitated procedures. Such a measure aims to avoid precariousness and to ensure their full access to healthcare,” Giammarinaro added.

The UN experts welcomed the decision adopted by some States to grant temporary residency rights, including access to social and health benefits to migrants including asylum seekers, amid the fight against the pandemic.

“No one should be left behind in this global fight against the pandemic. Governments must adopt measures ensuring every individual in the national territory, regardless of their migration status, is included and has access to health services in order to achieve successful containment of the COVID-19 pandemic,” they said.

The UN Special Rapporteurs also called for an automatic extension for at least six months of all protection and assistance programmes for migrants in vulnerable situations and trafficked persons that are close to their expiration date, to ensure continuity of survivors’ social inclusion process.

“The protection granted to unaccompanied children close to adulthood must also be extended for a minimum period of six months. Particular attention should be given to inadequate or overcrowding facilities where migrants are accommodated,” the experts said. Residents at such facilities, whether open or closed, should be provided with accurate and accessible information on the COVID19 outbreak, practical advice on preventing infection and access to clean water, sanitation facilities and other prevention materials.

“In overcrowded facilities where it is impossible for all residents to practise physical distancing, alternatives venues should be identified and consideration should be given to releasing those who have a place to stay in the community. It is crucial to establish protocols with local health providers to ensure access to testing, medical consultation and treatment of all residents in immigration facilities,” said the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants.

“Human rights must be at the centre of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Inclusive measures aimed at protecting the rights and health of the whole population, including all migrants and trafficked persons, regardless of their migration status, are urgent and necessary, and can contribute to the effectiveness of the general national measures against COVID-19,” the UN experts said.

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COVID-19 – OAS :: Indigenous Peoples

Statement from the OAS General Secretariat on the Situation of Indigenous Peoples during the COVID-19 Crisis
Organization of American States
April 2, 2020
The OAS General Secretariat calls on member states to pay special attention to their indigenous populations during the health crisis caused by COVID-19.

Considering the double situation of vulnerability suffered by indigenous communities due to their historical marginalization and geographic isolation, we urge local, regional, and national authorities in each member state to work in coordination with specific protocols that aim to protect the health and well-being of their indigenous population from an intercultural approach, as established in the Declaration of the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples of the United Nations, approved in 2007, and the American Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of the Organization of American States, approved in 2016.

The General Secretariat also urges member states to generate specific programs and policies to sustain the economies of their indigenous communities with the aim of mitigating the social and economic consequences of the pandemic.

Finally, the General Secretariat invites member states and the international community to maintain, during this global crisis, the spirit of unity, solidarity, and reciprocity that has been the historic guiding principle of indigenous peoples.

Migrant and refugee health; Pandemics and Violence Against Women and Children

Featured Journal Content

PLoS Medicine
http://www.plosmedicine.org/
(Accessed 4 Apr 2020)
Editorial
Migrant and refugee health: Complex health associations among diverse contexts call for tailored and rights-based solutions
Paul Spiegel, Kolitha Wickramage, Terry McGovern
| published 31 Mar 2020 PLOS Medicine
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1003105
Migration is a natural state of humankind and has been documented throughout history. Some people may flee violence and persecution, while others simply seek a better life. Although migration is often classified into these two basic categories, the reality is more complex and nuanced: people migrate for a myriad of interconnected cultural, economic, religious, ethnic, and political reasons. Depending upon the epoch, migration has been seen in a positive or a negative light. Currently, the terms migrant and refugee have become politically charged and are widely misused for political and populist purposes. However, no matter how migration is portrayed at a specific point in time, it will inexorably continue. Thus, the need to ensure the protection, health, and welfare of people on the move is imperative and provides the rationale for the accompanying PLOS Medicine Special Issue on Refugee and Migrant Health [1]. This imperative is not only a matter of humanity and equity but is also necessary for the global economy, as migration is inherently linked to economic growth [2].

The governance needed to provide health services to this diverse and widespread group of people—from low-waged migrant workers and undocumented migrants to refugees—is unclear. How can we attain universal health coverage in this complex and uncertain environment? At the 72nd World Health Assembly in May 2019, a global action plan was agreed upon that seeks to establish a “framework of priorities and guiding principles…to promote the health of refugees and migrants.” The Global Compact on Migration, developed through intergovernmental negotiations and adopted in December 2018, enshrined health as a cross-cutting priority for migration governance. It is, however, unlikely that governments will apply such frameworks, unfortunately. Despite widespread recognition of the numerous migration-related health risks, mobile populations are often met with punitive border policies, arbitrary detention, abuse, and extortion and are denied access to healthcare. All too often, government policies prioritize the politics of xenophobia over their responsibilities to act forcefully to counter them. As human beings, migrants are entitled to universal human rights without discrimination, and to the “highest attainable standard of health” according to international law. Migration health remains at the margins of policy prioritization for most governments, and thus universal health coverage remains elusive for the vast majority of migrants and refugees [3].

Seeking to raise awareness of the health inequities and different contexts faced by migrants and forcibly displaced persons, as well as to promote research, service, and policy innovation in this area, this Special Issue is devoted to migrant and refugee health in the broadest sense. The articles included, as well as the findings themselves, are as diverse as the topic itself. Here, we discuss the results from some of the articles illustrating different themes to portray this diversity.

The health status of migrants and refugees, along with healthcare coverage and utilization, has quite naturally been explored in some detail among different migrant populations and, unsurprisingly, the health effects vary according to the populations and contexts studied. In a study done in a high-income setting (the city of Bradford in the United Kingdom) where about one-third of mothers had been born in a different country, for example, the proportion of mothers who had visited the emergency department at least once for a consultation involving their children was found to be lower for migrants compared to nonmigrant mothers. However, among all mothers who utilized emergency services, the utilization rate was significantly higher than that of nonmigrant mothers [4]. Such findings can be useful for planning health provision and identifying possible barriers to attendance.

Mobility and relocation can create substantial vulnerabilities, including an increased risk of sexual violence, human trafficking, and labor exploitation, along with a need for child protection [5]. In conflict-affected settings, migration may coincide with weakened protections from family and social networks that leave people, particularly women and girls, vulnerable to exploitation. In a study by Amber Lalla and colleagues, Oromo and Somali refugee women in the Kakuma Refugee camp in Kenya were found to experience multiple sources of insecurity, including violence and neglect, in all spaces of the refugee camp [6]. Health services, including sexual and reproductive health services, are also often limited. However, a qualitative study done in a humanitarian setting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo documents knowledge of contraceptive methods among adolescent and young women as well as unmet need, indicating that other factors may play a greater role in influencing contraceptive use than displacement [7].

While migration often creates new vulnerabilities, it may also serve as a protective factor for migrants leaving highly disadvantaged contexts. In a comparison of international migrants, internal migrants, and nonmigrants in Bangladesh, Randall Kuhn and colleagues [8] found that people who moved primarily to become guest workers in Gulf Cooperative Countries faced comparable or lower injury and mortality risks compared to those who remained in their country of origin.

Health authorities often cite concerns over communicable diseases in migrant populations, which could be perceived to increase risks of disease transmission. However, there are often insufficient data and misinformation about these risks, and the reality is much more nuanced and context specific. A study of HIV diagnosis and care cascades in Australia found an overall improvement among all persons between 2013 and 2017, while cascades for migrants had larger gaps compared to nonmigrants, particularly among key migrant populations [9]. Investigations among Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh found that, despite multiple vaccination campaigns, immunity gaps still existed among children, particularly for diphtheria and polio [10,11].

These and other research studies featured in this Special Issue address a great diversity of migration trajectories and contexts. The evidence harnessed has highlighted different effects and complex associations between migration and health across different settings, including diverse mobility dynamics across different phases of the migration cycle. Policymakers, practitioners, and researchers need to calibrate national and regional policy and programmatic levers by using the best available evidence for their specific context; clearly there is no “one size fits all” conclusion and recommendations when it comes to migration health. Governments and policymakers must commit to and invest in evidence-informed processes while avoiding perceptions and misinformation.

It is clear from the articles in this Special Issue that much of the research in migration health is generated in high-income countries, with limited research productivity on migrant typologies occurring in low- and middle-income countries. With anticipated increases in the numbers of refugees and migrants in the future, there is a clear call for increased investment and support for health research in settings in which the needs of refugees and migrants are greatest. In addition, the health impacts for the largest populations of migrants who are engaged in low-wage work in precarious contexts remain poorly researched [12]. We hope that the research approaches and evidence featured in this issue will encourage future migration health research to address these evidence and equity gaps for the benefit of the growing and vulnerable populations of refugees and migrants worldwide.

References at title link above.

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Pandemics and Violence Against Women and Children
Center for Global Development – Working Paper
Amber Peterman , Alina Potts , Megan O’Donnell , Kelly Thompson , Niyati Shah , Sabine Oertelt-Prigione and Nicole van Gelder
April 1, 2020
Times of economic uncertainty, civil unrest and disaster are linked to a myriad of risk factors for increased violence against women and children (VAW/C). Pandemics are no exception. In fact, the regional or global nature and associated fear and uncertainty associated with pandemics provide an enabling environment that may exacerbate or spark diverse forms of violence. Understanding mechanisms underlying these dynamics are important for crafting policy and program responses to mitigate adverse effects.

Based on existing published and grey literature, we document nine main (direct and indirect) pathways linking pandemics and VAW/C, through effects of (on):(1) economic insecurity and poverty-related stress, (2) quarantines and social isolation, (3) disaster and conflict-related unrest and instability, (4) exposure to exploitative relationships due to changing demographics, (5) reduced health service availability and access to first responders, (6) inability of women to temporarily escape abusive partners, (7) virus-specific sources of violence, (8) exposure to violence and coercion in response efforts, and (9) violence perpetrated against health care workers. We also suggest additional pathways with limited or anecdotal evidence likely to effect smaller sub-groups.

Based on these mechanisms, we suggest eight policy and program responses for action by governments, civil society, international and community-based organizations. Finally, as research linking pandemics directly to diverse forms of VAW/C is scarce, we lay out a research agenda comprising three main streams, to better (1) understand the magnitude of the problem, (2) elucidate mechanisms and linkages with other social and economic factors and (3) inform intervention and response options. We hope this paper can be used by researchers, practitioners, and policymakers to help inform further evidence generation and policy action while situating VAW/C within the broader need for intersectional gender- and feminist-informed pandemic response.

Masks and handwashing Vs. physical distancing: Do we really have evidence-based answers for policymakers in resource-limited settings? – BRAC

Masks and handwashing Vs. physical distancing: Do we really have evidence-based answers for policymakers in resource-limited settings?
BRAC April 4, 2020
by Asif Saleh and Richard A. Cash
…For the first time, more than half of the world’s population is under some form of movement restriction to reduce the transmission of an infectious disease.

As more governments grapple with the immense difficulty of bringing their country to a halt, we see an important pattern emerging: leaders from low and middle-income countries are increasingly skeptical of mimicking policies that may have worked in China, South Korea, Germany, and elsewhere because of radical differences in demography, health system capacity, and cultural context.

Given the economic shock created by physical distancing policies, they are right to ask questions. Our own assessment of disease modeling, such as that conducted by Walker et al., finds it is deeply, even explicitly, biased towards optimising for the parametres of wealthy countries—on age distribution, ability of families to self-isolate, assumptions on capacity to scale up testing, and the ability to provide critical care and social support. We have yet to see models that optimise for younger populations in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, extreme population density of megacities, high rates of intergenerational-mingling, the likelihood of reverse migration, or the prevalence of other health conditions. Critical care is unavailable in these societies and health systems will have no ability to provide lifesaving treatment to the vast majority of its citizens. Bangladesh has 500 ventilators for a population of over 165 million; Liberia has three.

Public health experts seemed surprised to see physical distancing backfire—for example, urban migrants fleeing cities to avoid paying rent and be with their family during the crisis has occurred at an unthinkable scale. An estimated 10 million migrants left Dhaka in the 48 hours prior to Bangladesh’s national “holiday” began, and there are similar stories emerging from Kenya and beyond. Have epidemiological models accounted for the possibility that the policies could fuel widespread community transmission, rather than contain COVID-19? To those who know these populations intimately, it was the obvious consequence.

These models do not exclude just small pockets of people with unique circumstances. There are 1.2 billion people globally living in informal slums, which by definition are crowded and lack sufficient access to water and sanitation facilities meaning any force of isolation or quarantine is impossible. In some slums the density is as high as 800,000 people per square mile—for comparison, New York City’s is 27,000. If these policies turn out to lack efficacy, then the economic losses will have been for naught. Is the global health community monitoring this risk and updating their advice?

In addition to over prescribing physical distancing, the global health community should consider emergency provision of food or cash as an essential, lifesaving intervention to accompany forced loss of income. These programs have lagged far behind, despite the fact that for the 636 million people living in extreme poverty, severe food insecurity is immediate, predictable, and in many cases, preventable by appropriate policies.

Lastly and most crucially, we urge the global health community to better evaluate and promote infection control measures that are less disruptive to the livelihoods of the poor and feasible in low-resource settings. Some of the best interventions we have, such as handwashing, are underemphasised. The World Health Organization includes good respiratory hygiene as part of its standard guidance on how to reduce respiratory virus transmission. In places where people don’t cover their mouth or nose with a tissue or elbow when coughing or sneezing, efforts to promote these practices have been piloted successfully in schools in Bangladesh and may be a good investment to scale quickly. Furthermore, many South Asian countries have factories where masks could be quickly produced at scale, getting some of the millions of workers in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Myanmar and beyond back into factories that are currently closed due to the deepening troubles in the garment industry, while also enabling an infection control measure widely practiced in East Asia. Already India’s Ministry of Health has indicated that they are considering recommendations around homemade masks as a protective measure.

There are rapid examples of frugal, innovative improvisations popping up across the world, including some amazing crowd-sourced entertainment on staying healthy, but the global health community remains too fixated on policies built for a different context to consider them seriously.

While it may be difficult for epidemiologists to consider policy options without meaningful physical distancing, rapid expansion of widespread testing, and availability of critical care, this is the scenario most leaders in Africa and South Asia currently face. They deserve every bit as much rigour and decision-making support as the leaders in wealthier countries. There is an opportunity to come out of this pandemic with more solidarity and equality, and in pursuing it we save more lives together.

Asif Saleh is the executive director of BRAC Bangladesh. Richard A. Cash, M.D., M.P.H. is an American global health researcher, public health physician, internist, and Prince Mahidol Award winner. He is a senior lecturer and a director at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

WTO issues new report on worldwide trade in COVID-19 medical products

COVID-19 – Global Trade in Medical Products

WTO issues new report on worldwide trade in COVID-19 medical products
3 April 2020
The WTO Secretariat has released a new report on trade in medical products critical for the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The report traces trade flows for products such as personal protective products, hospital and laboratory supplies, medicines and medical technology while providing information on their respective tariffs.

Trade in medical products which have now been described as critical and in severe shortage during the COVID-19 crisis(1) totalled about US$ 597 billion in 2019, accounting for 1.7% of total world merchandise trade according to the report. The ten largest supplying economies accounted for almost three-quarters of total world exports of the products while the ten largest buyers accounted for roughly two-thirds of world imports.

Commitments made under various WTO negotiations and agreements have helped slash import tariffs on these products and improve market access, with the average tariff on COVID-19 medical products standing at 4.8%, lower than the 7.6% average tariff for non-agricultural products in general. The statistics show that 52% of 134 WTO members impose a tariff of 5% or lower on medical products. Among them, four members do not levy any tariffs at all: Hong Kong, China; Iceland; Macao, China; and Singapore. The report, however, also identifies markets where tariffs remain high. Tariffs on face masks, for example, can be as high as 55% in some countries.

Key points
:: Germany, the United States and Switzerland supply 35% of medical products; (2)
:: China, Germany and the United States export 40% of personal protective products;
:: Imports and exports of medical products totalled about US$ 2 trillion, including intra-EU trade, which represented approximately 5% of total world merchandise trade in 2019;
:: Trade of products described as critical and in severe shortage in the COVID-19 crisis totalled about US$ 597 billion, or 1.7% of total world trade in 2019;
:: Tariffs on some products remain very high. For example, the average applied tariff for hand soap is 17% and some WTO members apply tariffs as high as 65%;
:: Protective supplies used in the fight against COVID-19 attract an average tariff of 11.5% and go as high as 27% in some countries;
:: The WTO has contributed to the liberalization of trade in medical products in three main ways:
. The results of tariff negotiations scheduled at the inception of the WTO in 1995;
. Conclusion of the plurilateral sectoral Agreement on Pharmaceutical Products (“Pharma Agreement”) in the Uruguay Round and its four subsequent reviews;
. The Expansion of the Information Technology Agreement in 2015.

The report is available here.

UNESCO Launches the first Call for the Global Media Defence Fund

Press Freedom

UNESCO Launches the first Call for the Global Media Defence Fund
01/04/2020
UNESCO seeks partners in promoting media freedom, to be supported under the Global Media Defence Fund, established thanks to the initiative of the governments of the United Kingdom and Canada, within the framework of their Global Campaign for Media Freedom. Under this first call for partnerships, half million USD will be distributed in small grants to relevant not-for-profit organizations.

Until Sunday 10 May 2020, UNESCO will be accepting proposals for innovative projects that will enhance journalists’ legal protection and their access to legal assistance, as well support investigative journalism contributing to tackling impunity, at the local, regional and/or international level by advancing at least one of the following Global Media Defence Fund’s Outputs:

:: Output 2: Reinforcing the operationalization of national protection mechanisms and peer support networks, including by supporting governments and other institutions to develop national frameworks, action plans and legislation relevant to the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity, to ensure journalists’ rapid access to legal assistance, bolster their defense and enhance their safety;

:: Output 3: Supporting investigative journalism that contributes to reduced impunity for crimes against journalists, and enhancing the safety of those conducting this line of work;

:: Output 4: Enhancing structures for fostering strategic litigation in order to protect environments where the legal frameworks are conducive to an independent, free and plural media ecosystem.

Under this first Call for Partnerships, for total amount of USD $500,000 (five hundred thousand US dollars), the Global Media Defence Fund will consider applications for funding from relevant not-for-profit stakeholders, including civil society organizations, media associations, human rights organizations, rule of law initiatives, investigative journalism networks and academic institutions…

The Global Media Defence Fund is a UNESCO’s Multi-Partner Trust Fund with the goal of enhancing media protection and improving the access of journalists to specialized legal assistance. Its particular niches are supporting legal defense based on international standards on media freedom, as well as investigative journalism contributing to tackle impunity for crimes against journalists. The implementation approach consists in seeking applications for funding from external relevant non-profit organizations.

The Global Media Defence Fund was made possible thanks to the initial major donations by the United Kingdom and Canada and their respective pledges of £3 million (USD $3,7 million) over five years and of 1 million Canadian Dollars (USD $750,000) to the Fund. Additional donations have been received by the Czech Republic, Latvia, and Luxemburg. This Fund synergizes with other activities implemented by UNESCO in the field of freedom of expression, and its action contributes to the implementation of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.

Measuring the predictability of life outcomes with a scientific mass collaboration

Featured Journal Content

PNAS – Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
http://www.pnas.org/content/early/
[Accessed 4 Apr 2020]
Research Article
Measuring the predictability of life outcomes with a scientific mass collaboration
Matthew J. Salganik, et al.
Significance
Hundreds of researchers attempted to predict six life outcomes, such as a child’s grade point average and whether a family would be evicted from their home. These researchers used machine-learning methods optimized for prediction, and they drew on a vast dataset that was painstakingly collected by social scientists over 15 y. However, no one made very accurate predictions. For policymakers considering using predictive models in settings such as criminal justice and child-protective services, these results raise a number of concerns. Additionally, researchers must reconcile the idea that they understand life trajectories with the fact that none of the predictions were very accurate.
Abstract
How predictable are life trajectories? We investigated this question with a scientific mass collaboration using the common task method; 160 teams built predictive models for six life outcomes using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a high-quality birth cohort study. Despite using a rich dataset and applying machine-learning methods optimized for prediction, the best predictions were not very accurate and were only slightly better than those from a simple benchmark model. Within each outcome, prediction error was strongly associated with the family being predicted and weakly associated with the technique used to generate the prediction. Overall, these results suggest practical limits to the predictability of life outcomes in some settings and illustrate the value of mass collaborations in the social sciences.

Heritage Stewardship :: Rebuilding marine life; Pan-genomics in the human genome era; Heritage destruction in Myanmar’s Rakhine state:

Featured Journal Content – Heritage Stewardship

Nature
Volume 580 Issue 7801, 2 April 2020
http://www.nature.com/nature/current_issue.html
Review Article | 01 April 2020
Rebuilding marine life
Analyses of the recovery of marine populations, habitats and ecosystems following past conservation interventions indicate that substantial recovery of the abundance, structure and function of marine life could be achieved by 2050 if major pressures, including climate change, are mitigated.
Carlos M. Duarte, Susana Agusti[…] & Boris Worm
Abstract
Sustainable Development Goal 14 of the United Nations aims to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development”. Achieving this goal will require rebuilding the marine life-support systems that deliver the many benefits that society receives from a healthy ocean. Here we document the recovery of marine populations, habitats and ecosystems following past conservation interventions. Recovery rates across studies suggest that substantial recovery of the abundance, structure and function of marine life could be achieved by 2050, if major pressures—including climate change—are mitigated. Rebuilding marine life represents a doable Grand Challenge for humanity, an ethical obligation and a smart economic objective to achieve a sustainable future.

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Nature Reviews Genetics
Volume 21 Issue 4, April 2020
https://www.nature.com/nrg/volumes/21/issues/4
Review Article | 07 February 2020
Pan-genomics in the human genome era
Although single reference genomes are valuable resources, they do not capture genetic diversity among individuals. Sherman and Salzberg discuss the concept of ‘pan-genomes’, which are reference genomes that encompass the genetic variation within a given species. Focusing particularly on large eukaryotic pan-genomes, they describe the latest progress, the varied methodological approaches and computational challenges, as well as applications in fields such as agriculture and human disease.
Rachel M. Sherman & Steven L. Salzberg

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International Journal of Heritage Studies
Volume 26, Issue 5 2020
http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rjhs20/current
Article
Heritage destruction in Myanmar’s Rakhine state: legal and illegal iconoclasm
Ronan Lee & José Antonio González Zarandona
Pages: 519-538
Published online: 21 Sep 2019
ABSTRACT
In this article we map heritage destruction in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. We outline the historic and contemporary political context in Myanmar explaining the background of the Rohingya Muslim ethnic group and addressing the contribution of religion and political change to anti-Rohingya discrimination and violence in Myanmar. We trace patterns of heritage destruction as legal and/ or illegal iconoclasm and specify the key elements of heritage destruction in Rakhine state. Our analysis focusses on the use of heritage destruction in Rakhine state as a tool of genocide, and we suggest that heritage destruction in Myanmar’s Rakhine state ought to be understood as part the authorities’ policies of genocide against the Rohingya. We conclude the article with a call for UNESCO to act to extend its ‘Unite4Heritage’ campaign to include the destruction of heritage by state actors.

China and Huawei propose reinvention of the internet

Global Governance :: Internet

China and Huawei propose reinvention of the internet
New architecture would enable cutting-edge technologies but western countries fear more control for state-run internet services
Anna Gross and Madhumita Murgia
March 27, 2020
China has suggested a radical change to the way the internet works to the UN, in a proposal that claims to enable cutting-edge technologies such as holograms and self-driving cars but which critics say will also bake authoritarianism into the architecture underpinning the web.

The telecoms group Huawei, together with state-run companies China Unicom and China Telecom, and the country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), jointly proposed a new standard for core network technology, called “New IP”, at the UN’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

The proposal has caused concerns among western countries including the UK, Sweden and the US, who believe the system would splinter the global internet and give state-run internet service providers granular control over citizens’ internet use. It has gained the support of Russia, and potentially Saudi Arabia, according to western representatives at the ITU.

“Below the surface, there is a huge battle going on over what the internet will look like,” said a UK delegate to the ITU, who asked not to be named.

“You’ve got these two competing visions: one which is very free and open and . . . government hands-off . . . and one which is much more controlled and regulated by governments.”

Huawei has said that parts of the technology for the new network architecture are already being built, with the help of multiple states and companies, but would not name those involved. It has also said elements will be ready to be tested by early 2021.

In a PowerPoint presentation and an official standard proposal obtained by the Financial Times, Huawei describes the existing internet infrastructure that underpins global networks — known as TCP/IP — as “unstable” and “vastly insufficient” to meet the requirements of the digital world by 2030, including self-driving cars, the ubiquitous internet of things and “holo-sense teleportation”.

Instead, the Chinese proposals suggest the ITU take a “long-term view” and “shoulder the responsibility of a top-down design for the future network”.

Huawei said that New IP is being developed purely to meet the technical requirements of a rapidly-evolving digital world and that it has not built any type of control into its design. It said it was leading a group at the ITU focused on future network technology. “The research and innovation of New IP is open to scientists and engineers worldwide to participate in and contribute to,” added a spokesperson.

The ITU is currently led by Chinese telecoms engineer Houlin Zhao, who was nominated to the position by China’s MIIT in 2014. But a forthcoming paper for Nato by Oxford Information Labs, a cyber security company, whose authors are also UK delegates to the ITU, warns that New IP will enable “fine-grained controls in the foundations of the network” and that the Chinese approach “will lead to more centralised, top-down control of the internet and potentially even its users, with implications on security and human rights”…

EMERGENCIES – Coronavirus [COVID-19]

EMERGENCIES

Coronavirus [COVID-19]
Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC

Editor’s Note:
We certainly recognize the velocity of global developments in the COVID-19 pandemic. While we have concentrated the most current key reports just below, COVID-19 announcements, analysis and commentary will be found throughout this issue, in all sections.
Beyond the considerable continuing coverage in the global general media, the WHO’s authoritative guidance is available here:
:: Daily WHO situation reports here: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports

:: WHO Coronavirus disease (COVID-2019) daily press briefings here: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/media-resources/press-briefings

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Situation report – 75 [WHO]
Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
4 April 2020
[Excerpts]
SITUATION IN NUMBERS
Globally
1 051 635 confirmed (79 332)
56 985 deaths (6664)

Western Pacific Region
110 362 confirmed (1432)
3809 deaths (49)

European Region
583 141 confirmed (41 333)
42 334 deaths (5231)

South-East Asia Region
6528 confirmed (647)
267 deaths (22)

Eastern Mediterranean Region
65 903 confirmed (3667)
3592 deaths (154)

Region of the Americas
279 543 confirmed (32 070)
6802 deaths (1202)

African Region
5446 confirmed (183)
170 deaths (6)
 

WHO RISK ASSESSMENT
Global Level – Very High

HIGHLIGHTS

:: One new country/territory/area reported cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours: Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba.

:: As worldwide cases climb above 1 million and deaths over 50 000, Dr Tedros stressed that the best way for countries to end restrictions and ease their economic effects was to attack the virus with an aggressive and comprehensive package of measures. His speech can be found here.

:: WHO has released new technical guidance recommending universal access to public hand hygiene stations and making their use obligatory on entering and leaving any public or private commercial building and any public transport facility. It also recommends that healthcare facilities improve access to and practice of hand hygiene. Find more here.

:: WHO/Europe has received a €30 million contribution from the European Commission for 6 WHO European Region Member States – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine – to meet immediate needs in their responses to COVID-19. More information is available here.

Emergencies – Ebola

Emergencies

Ebola – DRC+
Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)

Ebola Outbreak in DRC 86: 31 March 2020
[Excerpts]
Situation Update WHO Health Emergencies Programme Page 2
There have been no new cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) reported since 17 February 2020. The last individual confirmed to have Ebola was discharged from an Ebola Treatment Centre on 3 March after recovering and testing negative for the virus twice. On 9 March, the last contacts finished their follow-up period. These developments are significant milestones in this outbreak. However, there is still a high risk of re-emergence of EVD, and it is critical to maintain response activities to rapidly detect and respond to any new cases, and to continue ongoing support and health monitoring operations for EVD survivors – as outlined in the WHO recommended criteria for declaring the end of the EVD outbreak.
There is ongoing surveillance, pathogen detection, and clinical management activities in previously affected areas, including alert validation, rapid diagnosis of suspected cases, and building partnerships with community members to strengthen investigation of potential EVD deaths in communities. Insecurity remains a challenge in continuing response activities, which could delay the detection of potential flare-ups.

…Conclusion
Due to challenges related to continued insecurity and population displacement in previous hotspots and potential shortages of resources required to carry out response activities amidst other local and global emergencies, there remains a high risk of re-emergence of EVD in the period leading up to the declaration of the end of the outbreak, as well as for several months following that declaration. In order to mitigate the risk of re-emergence, it is critical to maintain surveillance and rapid detection and response capacities, prioritize survivor care, and maintain cooperative relationships with survivors’ associations.

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Emergencies

Emergencies

POLIO
Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)

Polio this week as of 01 April 2020
Summary of new viruses this week (AFP cases and ES positives):
:: Afghanistan: one WPV1 case
:: Pakistan: four WPV1 cases, nine WPV1 positive environmental samples and eight cVDPV2 cases
:: Benin: one cVDPV2 case
:: Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) – two cVDPV2 cases
:: Ethiopia: five cVDPV2 cases
:: Ghana: five cVDPV2 cases and four cVDPV2 positive environmental samples
:: Malaysia: 15 cVDPV1 positive environmental samples and four cVDPV2 positive environmental samples
:: Togo: five cVDPV2 cases

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Call to action to support COVID-19 response
Polio Oversight Board Statement
02/04/2020
The COVID-19 pandemic response requires worldwide solidarity and an urgent global effort.  The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) stands ready to respond.

GPEI’s response to COVID-19 is driven by two principles.  The first is our public health imperative to ensure that the polio programme fully plays its part in the COVID-19 response, supported by our second, underlying principle that when the emergency ends we will be ready to end polio with urgency and determination.

GPEI assets at service of COVID-19 response
The Polio Oversight Board (POB) has agreed that for the next four to six months, GPEI programmatic and operational assets and human resources, from global to country level, will be made available to enable a strong response to COVID-19, while maintaining critical polio functions, such as surveillance and global vaccine supply management.

GPEI will continue to deploy polio-funded personnel to the COVID-19 response and make available coordination mechanisms, such as emergency operations centers, and physical assets such as transportation or IT hardware.  Through our extensive front-line worker networks in many countries, we will ensure the collection of information to provide evidence-informed guidance in line with WHO recommendations. At country level, the polio surveillance network is being trained on COVID-19 case detection, case and contact tracing, laboratory testing and data management.   Our data management systems and front-line staff are already ramping up action in many countries, and wherever the polio programme has a presence we will continue to serve the response.

GPEI will also seek assurances that when GPEI staff is supporting COVID-19 front line activities, they will be provided with the necessary training, materials, equipment and logistics support to do so safely, in line with infection prevention and control measures. The GPEI is conscious that women, who make up most caregivers and health workers, are likely to bear a heavier burden as the pandemic plays out in polio-affected countries. Their health and safety are a priority and we are working on ways to mitigate impact including making sure that their voices are heard in management and leadership positions.

Pause in immunization campaigns
All countries planning to conduct poliovirus preventative campaigns are advised to temporarily postpone these campaigns until the second half of 2020. Countries which were planning to conduct poliovirus outbreak response campaigns are advised to postpone these campaigns until 1 June 2020 and then reevaluate based on the status of the COVID-19 pandemic…

Download the full statement

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WHO Grade 3 Emergencies [to 28 Mar 2020]

Democratic Republic of the Congo
:: Ebola Outbreak in DRC 86: 31 March 2020
[See Ebola above for detail]

Mozambique floods
:: World Health Organization: 10 cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Mozambique
02 April 2020

Nigeria – No new digest announcements identified
Somalia – No new digest announcements identified
South Sudan – No new digest announcements identified
Syrian Arab Republic – No new digest announcements identified
Yemen – No new digest announcements identified

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WHO Grade 2 Emergencies [to 28 Mar 2020]
Iraq
:: The fight to contain COVID-19 in Iraq April 1, 2020

Afghanistan – No new digest announcements identified
Angola – No new digest announcements identified
Burkina Faso [in French] – No new digest announcements identified
Burundi – No new digest announcements identified
Cameroon – No new digest announcements identified
Central African Republic – No new digest announcements identified
Ethiopia – No new digest announcements identified
HIV in Pakistan – No new digest announcements identified
Iran – No new digest announcements identified
Libya – No new digest announcements identified
Malawi – No new digest announcements identified
Measles in Europe – No new digest announcements identified
MERS-CoV – No new digest announcements identified
Myanmar – No new digest announcements identified
Niger – No new digest announcements identified
occupied Palestinian territory – No new digest announcements identified
Sudan – No new digest announcements identified
Ukraine – No new digest announcements identified
Zimbabwe – No new digest announcements identified

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WHO Grade 1 Emergencies [to 28 Mar 2020]

Chad – No new digest announcements identified
Djibouti – No new digest announcements identified
Kenya – No new digest announcements identified
Mali – No new digest announcements identified
Namibia – viral hepatitis – No new digest announcements identified
Tanzania – No new digest announcements identified

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UN OCHA – L3 Emergencies
The UN and its humanitarian partners are currently responding to three ‘L3’ emergencies. This is the global humanitarian system’s classification for the response to the most severe, large-scale humanitarian crises. 
Syrian Arab Republic
:: Syrian Arab Republic: COVID-19 Update No. 04 – 2 April 2020
HIGHLIGHTS
:: Number of people confirmed by the Ministry of Health to have COVID-19: 16 (including two fatalities)
:: Areas of concern: Densely populated areas, notably Damascus/Rural Damascus and those living in camps, collective shelters and informal settlements in northeast Syria (NES), as well as areas where hostilities may be ongoing making sample collection more challenging.
:: Populations of concern: All groups are susceptible to the virus. However, the elderly (those 60 years and above) and people with underlying health conditions are particularly at risk; as are vulnerable refugee and IDP populations and healthcare workers with inadequate personal protective equipment (PPE).

Yemen
::  Yemen: Flash Floods in southern governorates – Flash Update No. 1 (As of 31 March 2020)

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UN OCHA – Corporate Emergencies
When the USG/ERC declares a Corporate Emergency Response, all OCHA offices, branches and sections provide their full support to response activities both at HQ and in the field.
CYCLONE IDAI and Kenneth – No new digest announcements identified
EBOLA OUTBREAK IN THE DRC – No new digest announcements identified

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