• The Developing World and Black Lives Matter Protests

    The Moorlander
    18 June 2020

    Covid-19 has taken a huge toll on the UK. More than 40,000 people have lost their lives and the economic cost may exceed £300 billion in this financial year alone. But however hard we feel we have been hit, we have been protected from the worst-case scenario - a scenario that may appear in developing countries around the world. The NHS was not overwhelmed and most of us have followed lockdown restrictions to help stop the spread of the virus (in April mobile phone data analysis by Oxford University showed a 98% fall in overall population movement - a staggering level of compliance). 

    But what if we didn't have a world-class healthcare system that meant every person who has needed critical care has been able to receive it? What if many of us were unable to follow lockdown restrictions because we would starve if we did? Advanced economies have options that the developing world does not. Many have poor healthcare systems, little or no welfare safety net and economies that were already weak before the virus hit. The World Health Organisation has estimated that there could be 250 million coronavirus cases in Africa alone over the next year. In addition to the loss of life the economic damage could push millions of people into extreme poverty. We must look beyond the difficulties on our own shores and I am proud that the UK has also contributed £150 million to the IMF's Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust and, as part of the G20, has offered to suspend debt payments for dozens of the world's poorest countries. I am also proud that we recently hosted The Global Vaccine Summit which raised US$ 8.8 billion to support the global fight against COVID-19 and to immunise 300 million children in lower-income countries against diseases like measles, polio and diphtheria by 2026. 

    There has understandably been much anger at the death of George Floyd, the African American who died after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. The brutality of the police was incomprehensible and there is no doubt that his murder will have a profound effect on race-relations in the United States. It has also led to an important conversation here in the UK about the racism and discrimination that still exists in our society despite enormous progress over many decades. While I emphasise with the feeling of anger and injustice, I wholeheartedly condemn the actions of a minority of the protesters that resulted in injuries to 27 police officers in London including to a policewoman who was forced off her horse. There is simply no excuse for violence. I also feel for every vulnerable person who is shielding at home when they see thousands of protestors in such close proximity, flagrantly breaking social distancing guidelines and putting lives at risk. 

    For more from Mel follow him on twitter @MelJStride or visit