COVID-19 pandemic response


Humanity needs leadership and solidarity to defeat COVID-19



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.

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

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. 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

Regional response

COVID-19 is already affecting fragile economies and impacting household incomes, employment and welfare in Europe and Central Asia.  

Across the region, UNDP responded quickly by working with donor partners to support governments in procurement and delivery of essential medical equipment, such as respirators, testing kits & protective equipment.

We are supporting health systems in many countries, including Bosnia and Herzegovina and Ukraine, and helping countries provide social protection for vulnerable populations.


Medical workers from the Emergency Medical Care Centre of Donetsk Oblast in Kramatorsk, Ukraine. Photo: Maksym Kytsiuk / UNDP Ukraine


UNDP’s offices in the region are also harnessing the power of digital technology to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic from creating support platforms for distance learning in Moldova and helping Kazakhstan shift its civil service delivery to digital forms, to partnering with mobile companies in Albania for an online medical resource and conducting a global hackathon for innovative solutions in Azerbaijan.


A distance learning system has been set up for students in Moldova, a partnership between UNDP and Studii. Photo:


In the longer term, UNDP will work with countries to assess the social and economic impacts of COVID-19 and take urgent recovery measures to minimize long-term impact, particularly for marginalized groups. and to help societies to recover better and recover “greener” and more sustainably.

It will require all of society to limit the spread of COVID-19 and to cushion the potentially devastating impact it may have on vulnerable people and economies.

We must rebuild trust and cooperation, within and among nations, and between people and their governments.

UNDP’s support will also help ensure that the responses of individual countries are comprehensive as well as equitable and inclusive, so that no one is left out and countries can continue to make progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. 

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.