COVID-19 Pandemic Response

Humanity needs leadership and
solidarity to defeat the coronavirus


The coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic is the defining global health crisis of our time and the greatest challenge we have faced since World War Two. Since its emergence in Asia late last year, the virus has spread to every continent except Antarctica. Cases are rising daily in Africa the Americas, and Europe.

Countries are racing to slow the spread of the disease by testing and treating patients, carrying out contact tracing, limiting travel, quarantining citizens, and cancelling large gatherings such as sporting events, concerts, and schools.

The pandemic is moving like a wave—one that may yet crash on those least able to cope.

But COVID-19 is much more than a health crisis. By stressing every one of the countries it touches, it has the potential to create devastating social, economic and political crises that will leave deep scars.

We are in uncharted territory. Many of our communities are unrecognizable from even a week ago. Dozens of the world’s greatest cities are deserted as people stay indoors, either by choice or by government order. Across the world, shops, theatres, restaurants and bars are closing.

Every day, people are losing jobs and income, with no way of knowing when normality will return. Small island nations, heavily dependent on tourism, have empty hotels and deserted beaches. The International Labour Organization estimates that 25 million jobs could be lost.


UNDP response

Every country needs to act immediately to prepare, respond, and recover. The UN system will support countries through each stage, with a focus on the most vulnerable.

Drawing on our experience with other outbreaks such as Ebola, HIV, SARS, TB and malaria, as well as our long history of working with the private and public sector, UNDP will help countries to urgently and effectively respond to COVID-19 as part of its mission to eradicate poverty, reduce inequalities and build resilience to crises and shocks.


“We are already hard at work, together with our UN family and other partners, on three immediate priorities: supporting the health response including the procurement and supply of essential health products, under WHO’s leadership, strengthening crisis management and response, and addressing critical social and economic impacts.” UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner


Responding with people at the centre

Pakistan has witnessed a massive increase in its confirmed cases from the initial two confirmed on 26th February 2020. As a country whose economy is highly reliant on manufacturing and service industries, shutdown measures and disruptions in supply chains will negatively impact on the economy and society, particularly the poor. 

As in other countries, the pandemic is likely to stress the capacity of the public health system and result in loss of human lives.  Severe repercussions on livelihoods, especially of the most vulnerable, dependent on government support, are expected.  The shutdown measures have already impacted small businesses, small and medium enterprises and daily wagers associated with various sectors of the economy. Considering that the informal sector in the country accounts for a major share of the national economy[1] and employs 27.3 million individuals, an increase in un(der)employment and poverty coupled with implications on food production and overall food security are anticipated.

The Government of Pakistan is concerned with the social and economic implications of COVID-19 and has established, with the help of UNDP, a COVID-19 Secretariat in the Planning Commission to prepare a coordinated economic and social response and design evidence-informed interventions. The Secretariat is required to ensure adequate coordination between Federal and Provincial Governments, with UN and Development Partners.  

In this regard, the federal government as well as provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have requested UNDP’s support on a range of areas including coordination, strategic communications, crisis management, business continuity and digital solutions to manage government response to the pandemic. Assistance with procurement of medical supplies and equipment is also being discussed.

Against this background, UNDP is currently in the following activities in response to COVID-19 in Pakistan. (This page will be updated regularly.)

Supporting the Federal Government in coordination and strategic communications:

  • Supporting the Planning Commission in establishing a Secretariat for coordinating socio-economic impact of COVID-19;
  • Supporting the Federal Government and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government with Strategic Communications and Awareness;
  • Supporting Economic Affairs Division to design ODA coordination system (aid effectiveness).

Supporting Ministry of Health and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government in health system response:

  • Capacity support in crisis management and provision of digital solutions to enable business continuity;
  • Supporting Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government to enhance supply chain management (including procurement of health supplies and equipment).

Coordination of UN socio-economic impact needs assessment to identify mitigation responses:

  • Impact assessment on the most vulnerable, policy recommendations & proposed programme interventions, to feed into the national action plan for COVID-19.

[1] The figure ranges from 18.2% to 71% based on different analysis 


While we do this, we must also consider ways to prevent a similar pandemic recurring. In the longer term, UNDP will look at ways to help countries to better prevent and manage such crises and ensure that the world makes full use of what we will learn from this one.

A global response now is an investment in our future.




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