The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has released two new data dashboards that highlight the huge disparities in countries’ abilities to cope with and recover from the COVID-19 crisis.

The pandemic is more than a global health emergency. It is a “systemic human development crisis,” already affecting the economic and social dimensions of development in unprecedented ways, UNDP said on Wednesday.

Policies to reduce vulnerabilities and build capacities to tackle crises, both in the short and long term, are vital if individuals and societies are to better weather and recover from shocks like this, it said.

UNDP’s Dashboard 1 on Preparedness presents indicators for 189 countries — including level of development, inequalities, the capacity of a healthcare system and Internet connectivity — to assess how well a nation can respond to the multiple impacts of a crisis like COVID-19.

While every society is vulnerable to crises, societies’ abilities to respond differ significantly around the world, UNDP said.For example, the most developed countries — those in the very high human development category — have on average 55 hospital beds, over 30 physicians, and 81 nurses per 10,000 people, compared to seven hospital beds, 2.5 physicians, and six nurses in a least developed country.

And with widespread lockdowns, the digital divide has become more significant than ever. About 6.5 billion people around the globe — 85.5 percent of the global population — still do not have access to reliable broadband Internet, which limits their ability to work and continue their education.

Preparedness is one thing. But, once a crisis hits, how vulnerable are countries to the fallout? UNDP’s Dashboard 2 on Vulnerabilities presents indicators that reflect countries’ susceptibility to the effects of this crisis.

Those already living in poverty are particularly at risk. Despite recent progress in poverty reduction, about one in four people still live in multidimensional poverty or are vulnerable to it, and more than 40 percent of the global population does not have any social protection.

“The COVID-19 pandemic also reminds us that disruptions in one place are contagious, triggering problems elsewhere,” UNDP noted.

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