By Togba-Nah Tipoteh
Founding Leading, Movement for Justice in Africa (MOJA)
Chairperson, Servants of Africa Fighting Epidemics (SAFE)
While there is global concern about the Corona Pandemic, the perennial and pervasive poverty pandemic rages on with more pandemics to be forthcoming were it not to be attended to adequately. The UNDP Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) for 2019 shows that 15% of the world’s population lives in poverty while there is global concern about the Corona Pandemic in which there are 7 million cases, 10% of the world’s population, and 400 thousand deaths.
UNICEF reports that 22,000 children die daily due to poverty, while the WHO indicates that hunger is the number one killer of people in the world. Furthermore, 80 million people have no adequate food to eat. Additional facts on the Poverty Pandemic exhibit a dismal reality. 50% of the world’s population lives on less than USD2.50 daily. More than 75 million of the world’s population have no access to safe drinking water. 25% of the world’s population lives without electricity. OXFAM observes that it would take USD60 billion, 25% of the income of the world’s top 100 billionaires, to end extreme poverty in the world.
All of the other aspects of the Poverty Pandemic are taking place while the USA is mobilizing USD7trillion as the stimulus package for the Corona Pandemic in the USA, not forgetting the Euro2 trillion stimulus package that the European Union is mobilizing to attend to the Corona Pandemic.
It comes as no surprise that the rich are mobilizing such enormous amounts of money as stimulus packages under the Corona Pandemic. Let us recall the USD800 billion bailout package that the Bush regime mobilized under the consequences of the Great Recession of 2008, and this was followed subsequently by the Obama regime with its bailout package of USD800 billion. The stimulus packages, ostensibly mobilized to help the poor, are highly likely to be used in the interest of the rich just as the bailout packages were utilized. In a single case, the CEO of Goldman Sachs received a Great recession bonus of USD21 million for “a job well done.” Now, in the situation of the Corona Pandemic, the bulk of the money in the stimulus package in the USA has been allocated for use by the big companies in the industrial-military complex.
Of course, one must not forget the funding of the production of the anti-corona vaccine, whose lead supporter is Bill Gates, the world’s second-richest person (www.vox.com). Given the global lockdowns, most people are locked down in their respective places of living, where working people depend mainly on the use of digital devices to make a living. The world’s top five wealthiest persons dominate the digital industry and gain enormously from the lockdowns.
The rich depend on the poor to get rich and more prosperous, explaining the income gap between the rich and the poor within countries and among the developed and developing countries. In 1820, from an income and wealth perspective, the ratio of the top 20% of the world’s population to the world’s bottom 20% of the population was 3:1; by 1991, this ration became 86:1, indicating enormous income and wealth inequality locally and globally. The poor, such as the 22,000 children who die daily and the 80 million people who do not have access to food to eat daily in the world, become sick and die from these dismal conditions much more than the rich who benefit enormously from the production of antivirus vaccines produced and distributed by the rich. For example, African-Americans comprise 15% of the USA population, but 25% of the deaths in the USA from the Corona Pandemic are these Africa-Americans. Many vaccines are used repeatedly to create illnesses that require the production of additional vaccines by wealthy manufacturers.
Hopefully, with the spreading of relevant knowledge about the dynamics of pandemics, especially the Poverty Pandemic, doable ways will be found to end pandemics.