For decades, people around the world have been getting richer and healthier.
The number of humans subsisting on less than $1.90 a day has slowly, but surely, been inching downwards year after year. Until now.
2020, and the global infectious disease outbreak that came with it, have dealt people everywhere a major blow — both to their wallets, and to their collective health. The pandemic is driving the wedge between rich and poor further apart in nearly every country in a way that hasn’t been seen in decades.
“This year is different, it’s unique,” Bill Gates said on a conference call with reporters ahead of the release of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Goalkeepers 2020 report. “The COVID-19 pandemic has not only stopped progress, it’s pushed it backwards.”
The change is an unprecedented one in the history of the 20 year-old, $50-plus billion foundation. The foundation’s Goalkeepers report, established in 2017, is meant to serve as an annual look at progress around the world on benchmarks of poverty, health and wellbeing, sanitation, education, and other sustainable development goals.
“Every single one of the goals was moving in the right direction,” Gates said on the call, which replaced what’s normally a star-studded in-person event. “The pandemic has, in almost every dimension, made inequity worse.”
This year, there is almost no progress to share (apart from some improvements in smoking cessation rates worldwide).
“We have to confront the current reality with candor,” the report said. “We’ve regressed.”