The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most urgent health, economic, and social crises the world has faced in decades. To date, over 700,000 cases and more than 36,000 deaths have been reported worldwide.
According to the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), the Americas is currently grappling with over 100,000 COVID-19 cases and that number is steadily rising. The Caribbean is also staggering in the wake of COVID-19, which has already dealt a devastating blow to tourism and service sectors across the region, adversely impacting the mainly small and open economies.
As regional governments move to stem the tide of this pandemic and counter its short- and long-term impact across critical sectors, a multi-sectoral response is needed to meet immediate health emergency care and response needs, while ensuring that a social safety net is created to support people whose income may drastically reduce during this crisis, and to protect the rights of the most vulnerable citizens.
This multi-faceted approach would seek to mitigate shocks and support recovery efforts from a crisis that may exacerbate existing inequalities and result in losing past years' gains towards the achievement Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Among the most immediate concerns facing Caribbean Governments is the imminent threat to over-burdened healthcare systems and fragile regional economies, which has the capacity to cause widespread unemployment and erode social gains.
As the Caribbean embarks on response and recovery efforts, the principles of leaving no one behind, non-discrimination, and commitment to universal access to essential services would be a useful basis for effective health-related, social and economic stimulus recovery policies.
A targeted human rights-based approach is always essential if we are to safeguard and protect the interests of the elderly, women and girls, children, people with disabilities, migrants, persons in detention, the homeless and other marginalized and displaced groups, who are the most vulnerable.
The elderly is disproportionately affected by the coronavirus as evidenced by the high number of deaths in this population group. For this reason, it is important that health and social services are targeted to address the needs of the elderly, especially those isolated without family support system, including the need for psycho-social support.
In the Caribbean, women are the primary caregivers in many households, and comprise approximately...