The knock-on effects of the coronavirus pandemic have halted and reversed global health progress, setting it back 25 years and exposing millions to the risk of deadly disease and poverty, a report by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation warned on Tuesday.
Because of COVID-19, extreme poverty has increased by 7%, and routine vaccine coverage – a good proxy measure for how health systems are functioning – is dropping to levels last seen in the 1990s, the report said.
“It’s a huge setback,” Bill Gates, co-chair of the Foundation and a leading philanthropic funder of global health and development, told a media briefing on the report’s findings.
Bill Gates added that he was “worried” and “surprised” by the conspiracy theories that have emerged during the pandemic.
The Foundation’s Goalkeepers report, which tracks progress on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of reducing poverty and improving health, found that in the past year, by nearly every indicator, the world has regressed.
Alongside dropping rates of routine immunisation, which the report described as “setting the world back about 25 years in 25 weeks”, rising levels of poverty and economic damage from the pandemic are reinforcing inequalities, it said.
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