COVID-19: UK pledges £65m to WHO

The United Kingdom has pledged £65 million ($81 million) aid package to the World Health Organisation (WHO), as part of efforts to help tackle the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The package is part of a broader £200 million package support to UK charities and international organisations to help eliminate mass infections in developing countries, which lacked the healthcare systems to track and halt the virus.

A News release issued by the UK Government and made available to the Ghana News Agency by the British High Commission in Accra, said the announcement broght the total amount of UK aid committed to the global fight against coronavirus to £744 million, making the UK one of the biggest donors to the international response.

“Health experts have identified the weakness of developing countries’ healthcare systems as one of the biggest risks to the global spread of the virus.

“They have also warned that if coronavirus is left to spread in developing countries, this could lead to the virus re-emerging in the UK later in the year and put further pressure on our NHS.”

It said the new UK aid package included; £130 million for UN agencies in response to their urgent appeal for support; of this, £65 million would go to the WHO, which is coordinating international efforts to end the pandemic sooner.

It said the UK funding for the WHO would help provide more accurate assessments of how the pandemic was progressing around the world, allowing support to be targeted, where it would save the most lives and stop the outbreak sooner, and helping countries respond to the virus.

It noted that the pandemic was particularly dangerous for countries with weak health systems that were already struggling to fight preventable diseases.

It said the funding would also help developing countries to rapidly identify and care for patients with symptoms in order to limit human-to-human transmission.

“Our investment will help install new hand-washing stations and isolation and treatment centres in refugee camps, and increase access to clean water for those living in areas of armed conflict.”

Madam Anne-Marie Trevelyan, UK International Development Secretary said: “While our brilliant doctors and nurses fight coronavirus at home, we’re deploying British expertise and funding around the world to prevent a second deadly wave reaching the UK”.

“Coronavirus does not respect country borders so our ability to protect the British public will only be effective if we strengthen the healthcare systems of vulnerable developing countries too.”

The release noted that a further £50 million of the £200 million package would support the Red Cross in difficult to reach areas such as those suffering from armed conflict.

It said a final £20 million would go to NGOs, including; UK charities which were using British expertise and experience to deal with coronavirus.

It said pioneering British scientists and researchers like those at Oxford University and at Mologic, based in Bedford, were already at the forefront of the global race to find a coronavirus vaccine and stop its spread, including; within the UK.

It said the UK had already committed £250 million of aid to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to rapidly develop a coronavirus vaccine, the biggest donation of any country; stating that “Thanks to this investment, future vaccines will be made available at the lowest possible price to the NHS and other countries’ healthcare systems”.

The release said the announcement of the aid package followed the Prime Minister’s call to world leaders to work together to create a vaccine as quickly as possible and make it available to anyone who needed it.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization said: “COVID-19 had demonstrated it had no regard for borders, ethnicities, ideologies or the size of a country’s economy.

“The UK’s generous contribution is a strong statement that this is a global threat that demands a global response.”

He intimated that the WHO was deeply grateful to the Government and people of the UK for their generous contribution.

“We are all in this together, which means protecting health around the world will help to protect the health of people in the UK,” Dr Ghebreyesus stated.

The release said the UK aid support for the WHO would not only help developing countries, but would also benefit the UK through further research into the virus and improved international coordination.

Source: GNA

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