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Gates Foundation: COVID-19 Caused 7 Percent Rise in Extreme Poverty

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A new report says the COVID-19 health crisis has greatly harmed worldwide efforts to reduce poverty and improve healthcare.

The Goalkeepers Report was released this week by the nonprofit Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The report is published yearly to present the latest progress by the organization and its partners.

An introductory statement notes that, in past reports, the organization has "celebrated decades of historic progress in fighting poverty and disease." This year, however, "We have to confront the current reality with candor: This progress has now stopped."

The Goalkeepers Report follows progress on 17 goals that world leaders set in 2015, in an agreement known as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The goals center on ways to end poverty, fight inequality and reduce climate change by 2030.

Mother of two Amsale Hailemariam, a domestic worker who lost work because of the coronavirus, hangs clothes after washing them outside her small tent in the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Friday, June 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)
Mother of two Amsale Hailemariam, a domestic worker who lost work because of the coronavirus, hangs clothes after washing them outside her small tent in the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Friday, June 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

The report said progress was stopped or slowed in nearly all areas of the UN goals.

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the extreme poverty level worldwide to 7 percent. The health crisis has ended a 20-year run of progress, the report found.

"Already in 2020, the pandemic has pushed almost 37 million people below the $1.90 a day extreme poverty line."

The numbers are based on information gathered by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). The institute is a research center at the University of Washington. It shares data with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The report also noted a sharp drop in overall vaccine coverage. The IHME said coverage fell to levels last seen in the 1990s. Child vaccinations for diseases such as measles and diphtheria dropped from a record high of more than 80 percent last year to 70 percent in 2020.

"In other words," we've been set back about 25 years in about 25 weeks," the report said.

In this May 6, 2020 photo, Tariq Nawaz holds his 10-month-old baby daughter Tuba who suffers from polio, in Suleiman Khel, Pakistan. (AP Photo/Muhammad Sajjad)
In this May 6, 2020 photo, Tariq Nawaz holds his 10-month-old baby daughter Tuba who suffers from polio, in Suleiman Khel, Pakistan. (AP Photo/Muhammad Sajjad)

The report also noted International Monetary Fund predictions that the world economy will lose $12 trillion or more by the end of 2021. That would be the biggest worldwide GDP loss since the end of World War II.

The report said, "There is no such thing as a national solution to a global crisis. All countries must work together to end the pandemic and begin rebuilding economies."

Speaking to The New York Times, Bill Gates said he was saddened by the findings of the latest report. But he expressed hope that the world could recover within "two to three years."

Before this can happen, money supplies from tourism and earnings from relatives working overseas will need to begin flowing again. So does World Bank assistance. Gates also said things cannot return to normal until there is a vaccine available for everyone. He predicted that could happen by 2022.

I'm Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from Reuters, VOA News and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.

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Words in This Story

decaden. a period of ten years

candorn. honest talk, especially about something that is unpleasant or embarrassing

pandemic n. when a disease spreads very quickly affecting many people over a very large area or throughout the world

GDP n. Gross Domestic Product: the total value of goods and services a country produces in a year

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