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MPs warn of ‘shadow pandemic’ of destitution and disease

MPS have warned that a “shadow pandemic” of destitution, disease, international debt and a rise in women and girls being abused could be more catastrophic than Covid-19 itself.

In a report published today, the international development committee (IDC) urges the government to speed up its distribution of a promised sum of £764 million to ensure healthcare progress is not lost amid efforts to halt the spread of Covid-19.

The MPs’ inquiry found that routine healthcare — such as vaccinations such as for measles, polio and diphtheria, and HIV/Aids anti-retroviral treatment — has ground to a halt in many countries.

People across the global south have been more in fear of threats of job losses and starvation than the pandemic itself, MPs said.

The IDC is also calling for international debt cancellation. As of last April, the MPs heard that about £24 billion was still being paid by struggling governments under threats of being sued by banks.

It warned that the government’s recent cut in official development assistance is causing uncertainty for aid programmes and that funding funnelled through multilateral organisations suffers from excessive bureaucracy.

Global Justice Now campaigner Daniel Willis told the Morning Star: “A country with a history like Britain’s should be increasing, not cutting, this kind of redistribution at a time like this.

“Countries like Ghana and Zambia are being forced to choose between providing urgent healthcare and paying off foreign debts.

“Cancelling, not just suspending, these debts is an urgent priority.

“Big banks like HSBC, Blackrock and Goldman Sachs are currently refusing calls to participate and are profiting from the pandemic.”

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