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Corona virus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is a grim reminder of what ails one, ails us all

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Over a million positive cases of corona virus disease (COVID-19) have been reported worldwide (1,018,150 cases as on 3rd April 2020) with 53,251 untimely deaths. Corona virus disease (COVID-19) was first reported in Wuhan, China, on 31 December 2019. The United Nations health agency (World Health Organization - WHO) had declared COVID-19 as a public health emergency of international concern on 30 January 2020 (same day when first case of COVID-19 was reported in India). Later WHO declared it as a global pandemic. More worrying are warnings from epidemiologists who estimate that the trajectory of corona virus could peak furthermore in several countries in coming weeks/ months.

This is undisputable now that COVID-19 pandemic has brought global health system on its knees while forcing massive disruption in global economy - even in richer nations with relatively better health security. How the 'corporate world' is impacted is just one side of the story in spotlight. But on other much bigger side, the lives of majority of our population, that strive to survive and make a daily living, is disrupted and at threat to face a humanitarian disaster in making - if urgent measures are not taken.

Dr Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief of world's top medical journal The Lancet, tweeted: "The countries that will be most resilient to COVID-19 will be those with the most universal, equitable, responsive, and well-financed health systems. Never have three simple words - health for all - meant so much."

COVID-19 is a wake-up call to reverse inequality and effectively address the mountainous challenge to "leave no one behind" in sustainable development. If we fail to do this, we will also fail on health security for all. With World Health Day theme being "Health For All" it is high time we walk-the-talk on health security and deliver on these promises for everyone, be it rich or the poor, urban or rural, haves or have nots - and high time that we stand true to the spirit behind the chant of 'where no one is left behind' when it comes to sustainable development.

COVID-19 has bared an underlying pandemic of inequality

The global CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE) recently called for heightened attention beyond the tangible impacts on our health and lives of COVID-19. COVID-19 has bared an underlying pandemic of inequality, which renders the majority and bottom rung of our society more vulnerable to health crises.

"We bear witness to the plight of our brothers and sisters who endure squalid conditions, in environments with poor access to nutrition, water, and sanitation, among other prerequisites for a healthy life. We are deeply concerned about the elderly, women and children, migrants and refugees, and persons with disability. It is they who bear the brunt of this crisis and should be prioritised as we face this pandemic" said CPDE statement.

"We call for concrete responses from our governments, the duty-bearers, to ensure that we will soldier through this together. More importantly, we urge them to rethink the way we run the world, to narrow the gap that led us here."

"Today's inequality was built over decades of relentless pursuit of profit, supported by development policies not predicated on people's needs. Its impact now stares us in the face and teaches us important lessons about progress and humanity: what ails one ails us all, what elevates one, must elevate us all. And when we pursue growth at the expense of others, we suffer as a human race" rightly states the statement from CPDE.

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