The United Nation has disclosed that COVID-19 has pushed back 119 to 124 million people, including Nigerians into poverty and chronic hunger, endangering the possibilities of making the world meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
SDGs Report 2021, launched on Tuesday at UN Headquarters in New York, showed the toll that the COVID-19 pandemic had taken on the 2030 Agenda.
The launch of the report coincided with the annual High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on SDGs. According to the report, the world was not on track to meet the 17 SDGs before COVID-19 struck.
“It indicated that countries must take ‘critical’ steps on the road out of the pandemic during the next 18 months. In addition to the almost four million deaths due to the coronavirus, between 119 and 124 million people were pushed back into poverty and chronic hunger, and the equivalent of 255 million full-time jobs were lost.
“The pandemic has halted or reversed years, or even decades of development progress. Global extreme poverty rose for the first time since 1998,” said UN Under-Secretary-General Liu Zhenmin during the launch.
Moreover, disruptions to essential health services have threatened years of progress in improving maternal and child health, increasing immunisation coverage, and reducing communicable and non-communicable diseases. Around 90 per cent of countries are still reporting one or more significant disruptions to essential health services.
The report also indicated that the pandemic exposed and intensified inequalities within and between countries. As of June 17, around 68 vaccine shots were administered for every 100 people in Europe and Northern America – compared with fewer than two in sub-Saharan Africa.
“The poorest and most vulnerable continue to be at greater risk of becoming infected by the virus and have borne the brunt of the economic fallout,” added the UN secretary-general.