The Pacific Council recently hosted a webcast with Michelle Nunn and Tatiana Bertolucci of CARE USA, and moderated by Dr. Peter Laugharn of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. They discussed how COVID-19 is impacting developing countries.
Here are key takeaways from the discussion:
- Nunn argued that countries need to “ace the basics,” including providing clean water, food, and supplies in hospitals. “How do we get doctors into countries that don’t have many? No community is safe until all communities are safe, so international coordination needs to happen,” she said.
- Bertolucci pointed out that South America is extremely vulnerable. “People rely on day-to-day incomes and social distancing is nearly impossible in many areas,” she said. “People are saying, ‘We aren’t going to die from COVID-19, we’re going to starve to death.’”
- Bertolucci also urged developing countries to invest in women and girls. “They are on the frontlines, they’re the caretakers, they’re responsible for large portions of the economy, and they are a key component in overall health,” she said.
- Nunn and Bertolucci stressed that good local governance is critical, especially in cases where local, national, and international leadership are unaligned. They see hope in the strength of teams on the ground who are fully committed to making a difference in their countries and in inspiring women leaders.
- “When the time comes, we need an equitable distribution of vaccines,” Nunn said.
- “Responding only in your country will not solve this problem,” Bertolucci said. “There’s no other option other than cooperating globally.”
- Nunn warned that compassion fatigue from individuals, governments, and institutions is beginning. “We need donations, investments, and resources from international nonprofits and larger entities such as WHO and the IMF,” she said.
- In a discussion about foreign perceptions of the United States and China, Bertolucci pointed out that xenophobia is juxtaposed with the Chinese government offering PPE and other help. “In Latin America, there is the perception of China leading in this region that is usually led by the United States,” she said. “Internationally, there has been lots of surprise about how hard the United States was hit by COVID-19. There was always a belief that the United States functions well. COVID-19 shattered this illusion.”
- Nunn said Americans now face a generational challenge. “The United States is in great danger of failing this test as a world leader from a humanitarian perspective,” she said. “Lift up your voice and reshape this moment so we don’t fail this test.”
- “We can all play a role in raising our voices and making sure we understand that this is a global crisis,” Bertolucci said. “Because of structural problems, COVID-19 is hitting the developing world even harder than the developed world. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, but be aware of the vulnerabilities of the rest of the world. Stand up in solidarity with one another across borders.”
Watch the full conversation below:
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Pacific Council.