South Korea contributes US$53 million for COVID-19 response in Latin America via Inter-American Development Bank

South Korea's Ministry of Economy and Finance (MOEF) announced that it will provide a total of US$53 million to help its partner countries in the Latin American region combat COVID-19. Channeled through the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), MOEF will contribute US$50 million through the IDB's Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF), as well as US$3 million in the form of a trust fund to finance four projects on health and medicine, private sector development, education, and public administration to fight COVID-19 in Latin America.

The contribution of US$53 million is an addition to the MOEF’s US$400 million official development assistance (ODA) in health announced in early May.

News article – The Korea Herald

South Korea Global health

South Korean President Moon Jae-in calls for global solidarity, vaccine development, and legally binding health regulations at World Health Assembly

President Moon Jae-in of South Korea gave a special address at the 73rd World Health Assembly on May 18th. He first included in his remarks a review of South Korea’s efforts to fight COVID-19, under the principle of "freedom for all". He explained how South Korea opted for options such as social distancing, the active wearing of face masks, and rigorous quarantine measures rather than choosing national lockdown measures. He also referenced South Korea’s ongoing partnership with major multilateral health initiatives including Gavi, the Global Fund, UNITAID, IVI, and CEPI. However, he stressed that the threats of global health pandemic are still widespread and highlighted the importance of vaccine development. In particular, he emphasized the following three points in his remarks:

  • Expand humanitarian assistance to partner countries with vulnerable healthcare systems. For example, South Korea will provide US$100 million in humanitarian aid to its partner countries while sharing experiences and data gathered on COVID-19
  • Cooperate globally for the development of vaccines and therapeutics including supporting WHO’s efforts. Vaccines and treatments should also be distributed equitably globally as public goods
  • Update the WHO international health regulations to be legally binding, share information transparently, set up a joint cooperation mechanism

Transcript – Yonhap News

Japan holds international conference to discuss universal health coverage in the context of COVID-19

Japan's Permanent Mission to the United Nations held an online conference on COVID-19, with participation from the WHO, UNICEF and UN ambassadors from over 100 countries. The primary focus of the event was to discuss the need for universal health coverage (UHC) in the context of the COVID-19 crisis, and officials from the WHO stated the need for global commitment on universal access to healthcare by providing development assistance, especially for vulnerable countries.

Referencing a political declaration by the UN last year promoting UHC, Japan's Ambassador to the UN Kimihiro Ishikane stated, “it's more important now than ever to be more involved with this declaration now that COVID-19 having a major impact on people."

Furthermore, WHO Deputy Executive Director Zsuzsanna Yakab claimed, “in order to suppress the virus, it is essential that everyone be able to receive medical services without suffering financial difficulties” and urged countries to improve their medical systems.

The 2014 Ebola epidemic illustrated the difficulties in preventing diseases like Ebola, measles, malaria, and tuberculosis in vulnerable medical systems, and UNICEF Director Henrietta Fore highlighted the need to prepare for other infectious diseases during the coronavirus pandemic.

News article – Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) (in Japanese)

Japan Global health

UK announces two new aid-for trade facilities for poor countries impacted by COVID-19

The UK Ambassador to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Julian Braithwaite, announced the establishment of two new 'aid-for-trade' facilities for poor countries impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. He made the announcement at the WTO’s General Council on Friday, May 15th, 2020.

The first facility is through the UK's Department for International Development’s (DFIF) Trade and Investment Advocacy Fund (TAF2+), which is aimed at supporting countries in:

  • Conducting research to track the trade impacts of COVID-19;
  • Informing the WTO of any trade-related measures taking place as a result of COVID-19; and
  • Engaging in virtual WTO meeting platforms.

The second is through the World Bank’s Trade Facilitation Support Programme (TFSP), which the UK is helping to fund. This program is aimed at helping vulnerable countries maintain trading despite the challenges arising as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

Press release - UK Government

UK Development Minister announces US$37 million in new funding for UK-based small and medium-sized charities combatting COVID-19 in poor countries

The UK Secretary of State for International Development, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, has announced an additional £30 million (US$37 million) of UK development assistance will be made available to UK-based charities fighting COVID-19. The first funding round will open on May 18th, 2020 through the UK Aid Direct program. Charities will be able to bid for grants up to £4 million (US$5 million) each.

Trevelyan also provided greater detail about UK NGOs that have already received development assistance for COVID-19 related projects. For example, organizations such as Humanity & Inclusion, Action Against Hunger, CARE, and Christian Aid, have received funding from the Department of International Development's (DFID) £20 million (US$25 million) humanitarian assistance package. These organizations have provided essential healthcare, food, and shelter to some of the world’s most vulnerable populations in countries such as Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia, and the Sahel region. Action Aid, Population Services International (PSI), Water Aid, and the International Rescue Committee have also received funding via DFID’s £100 million (US$124 million) partnership with Unilever to improve sanitation in poor countries fighting COVID-19.

Press Release - UK Government

Canada stresses importance of peace during COVID-19 crisis

Canada's  Minister of International Development, Karina Gould, and Sierra Leone's Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Francis M. Kai-Kai, who together co-chair the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (IDPS), released a statement on the importance of maintaining and promoting peace in fragile and conflict-affected states. These states are at increased risk of experiencing "destabilizing socio-economic impacts" as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

The statement articulates IDPS' position on the pandemic response and puts forth key areas of focus for the IDPS moving forward. The IDPS:

  1. Supports the United Nations' call for a global ceasefire and is working closely with the g7+ group of fragile and conflict-affected states and the Civil Society Platform for Peacebuilding and State-building to respond to the pandemic;
  2. Is committed to advocating for COVID-19 response efforts that advance priorities established by IDPS members in the IDPS 2019 to 2021 Peace Visionthe 2030 Sustainable Development Goal Agenda, the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States, and the Stockholm Declaration;
  3. Encourages governments to respond to COVID-19 in a "just and inclusive" way that considers youth, women peacebuilders, and human rights defenders; and
  4. Will "galvanize support from the private sector" in efforts to promote peacebuilding activities.

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

Canada Global health

Ex-Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard to become chair of Wellcome in 2021

In April 2021, Julia Gillard will become chair of Wellcome, the UK-based medical research charity currently engaged in developing a coronavirus vaccine. Gillard was Prime Minister of Australia from 2010 to 2013 and is currently chair of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). She is also chair of the Australian mental health organization Beyond Blue.

Gillard will succeed Eliza Manningham-Buller, who is stepping down from the role.

News article - Wellcome Trust

News article - SBS Australia

Executive Director of Save the Children UK warns of lost decade for children

Kevin Watkins, the Executive Director of Save the Children UK, warns that unless immediate action is taken, the 2020s could be a lost decade for making progress on improving the lives of millions of vulnerable children.

Watkins highlights the fact that children in many countries are already missing out on their education as a result of school closures because of the COVID-19 crisis. These closures also mean that  370 million children are not receiving daily school meals, which represent a vital part of many children's daily nutrition.

Loss of income and the impact of rising food prices as a result of COVID-19 could also put a further seven million children around the world at risk of stunting. Furthermore, according to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the current suspension of routine vaccinations could result in more than 13 million people missing out on vital vaccinations.

Watkins calls for donors to:

  • Maintain their development assistance budgets, stressing the fact that poor countries require financial assistance now more than ever;
  • Support further debt relief for poor countries. The G20 already agreed to suspend official creditors debt to the poorest countries, which will free up US$14 billion, but Watkins calls for the G20 to push for a suspension of poor countries' commercial debt as well since overall, commercial debt is twice the size official creditor debt; and
  • Enable the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to support countries and expand their fiscal space.

News article - Devex

Donor Tracker announces webinar on donor countries' response to COVID-19 crisis

Join us on Thursday, May 14 from 16:00-17:00 (CEST) for a webinar exploring donor countries' response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Over the last few months, the Donor Tracker team has been following the impacts of COVID-19 in a rapidly shifting global development landscape. In this webinar, our speakers, Raimund Zühr and Zoë Johnson will present some early insights into donor country responses, discuss the potential impact on ODA volumes and allocations, and explore how global development advocates can best respond.

Registration - Zoom

Japan and the Islamic Development Bank to provide more than US$1 billion in budget support to Bangladesh

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) have agreed to provide support of US$1 billion and US$182 million respectively in budget support to meet Bangladesh’s growing expenditure needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

JICA is working with officials from Japan's Economics Relations Division (ERD) to decide on how to allocate the budget support. Furthermore, the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) will provide US$60 million in new funding and will redirect US$122 million from projects the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) is already financing in the country.

While it normally provides project aid, JICA responded to Dhaka’s call for budget support as the COVID-19 pandemic worsens poverty in the country, and more than 1.5 million poor and vulnerable people have lost their livelihoods due to the shutdown. The budget aid will not affect ongoing financing to JICA-supported projects in Bangladesh. 

Bangladesh has also sought US$1.3 billion from the Asian Development Bank and US$500 million from the World Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank for next year’s budget, which includes a US$11.2 million (BDT956.2 billion) stimulus package.

The IsDB has also announced a US$2.3 billion package to support its 57 member countries tackle COVID-19.

News article – The Daily Star

Japan Global health