Today, the coronavirus affects the daily lives of at least a third of the world's population. It therefore also affects our international work around the world. Our partners have stopped all activities; some try to change and focus on educating about Corona and the importance of protecting themselves and those at risk.
At the same time as we in Sweden are worried that intensive care units will not be enough and for our economy, many developing countries have an awful challenge ahead of them about the infection (or rather When) gets a foothold. The health care systems are weak and almost completely lack opportunities for intensive care. To exemplify with some countries in the world: Bangladesh has 878 intensive care units with 200 million inhabitants. Myanmar has 331 intensive care units with 60 million inhabitants. Sri Lanka has 519 places with a population of 25 million. Sweden has about 500 places for 10 million inhabitants. (Sweden is also very low compared to many European countries, but what actually constitutes an intensive care unit can also vary greatly between different countries.)
Intensive care is also something completely different than in Sweden: the equipment is often old and worn, and the staff is less trained. Poor countries also have greater challenges to face when there is a pandemic. Healthcare, which is undersized from the outset, is also underfunded. There is no money to buy respirators and protective equipment for. There is also no money to support entrepreneurship. The corona crisis will leave terrible traces in humanity as a whole, and we have a long-term work ahead of us.
Unfortunately, we also see that many authoritarian leaders see the Corona virus as an opportunity to crack down on opposition and freedom of speech. In Cambodia, 17 people have been arrested, including a 14-year-old girl, for expressing criticism or just concern on social media. The restrictions also hinder civil society, which can therefore not be mobilized to protect the population. If the country has lived under authoritarian rule for a long time, civil society is not strong enough to step forward and provide support either. Therefore, we may also see protests and unrest in many countries when governments are unable to cope with the situation by means other than repression and violence.
We will tell more in the future on the International Department's own Facebook page. You are of course welcome with questions about what we see in the world and what happens to our international work. Right now we are mapping each partner's situation and hopefully we have a pretty good picture by the end of next week.