Asset Publisher

Policy & Global Development

COVID-19 and Other Pandemics: Indirect Effects in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

Series | COVID-19 and other pandemics #43


[This document forms part of a series of discussion notes addressing fundamental questions about global health. Its purpose is to transfer scientific knowledge into the public conversation and the decision-making process. These documents are based on the best information available and may be updated as new information comes to light.]


Written by Berta Tarrats, Claudia García-Vaz, Clara Marín, Quique Bassat and Gonzalo Fanjul (ISGlobal), this document provides an introductory analysis of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on various health objectives in low- and middle-income countries, with a focus on the relationship between health, socioeconomic and financial factors. 

The SARS-CoV-2 outbreak in late 2019 in China, and the rapid spread of the virus across the rest of the world, is a quintessential example of the catastrophic disruption that a single pathogen can unleash on our globalised world. The COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating consequences for patients, health workers, health systems and economies. As this multifaceted crisis has reached low- and middle-income countries, the effects of the pandemic have once again exposed weaknesses in the health systems of those countries, as well as structural inequalities with regard to income, security and well-being for hundreds of millions of people.

While it is clear that the pandemic is one of the factors threatening the health systems of low- and middle-income countries, it could also, paradoxically, present an opportunity to rebuild these systems.

This introduction will be followed by a series of documents providing an in-depth analysis of the impact of the pandemic in relation to areas such as malaria, HIV and tuberculosis.