Up to two billion US Dollars is required between April and December 2020 to mitigate the impact of Coronavirus, particularly on fragile countries with weak health systems.
Having gained a foothold in 195 countries with more than 400,000 reported cases and close to 20,000 deaths, COVID-19 is reaching more areas of the world grappling with conflict, natural disasters, and climate change. UN agencies are now devising means to confront the unprecedented challenge posed by the COVID-19, in some of the world’s most vulnerable countries.
“COVID-19 is menacing the whole of humanity – and so the whole of humanity must fight back”, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, said, underscoring that “individual country responses are not going to be enough.”
Properly funded, the fund will save many lives and arm humanitarian agencies with laboratory supplies for testing and medical equipment to treat the sick while protecting health care workers, explained the Secretary-General.
The Secretary-General was speaking at a virtual press briefing, held jointly with the UN Humanitarian Coordinator Mark Lowcock, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director Henrietta Fore and World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock warned that failing to help vulnerable countries fight the coronavirus now could place millions at risk, pointing out that after upending life in some of the world’s wealthiest countries, COVID 19 is now reaching people living in warzones, with no soap, clean water and or hospital beds.
To boost the response plan Lowcock released an additional USD 60 million from the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund, bringing CERF’s support to the COVID-19 pandemic to USD 75 million. In addition, country-based pooled funds have allocated more than USD 3 million, to date.
The Director-General of the World Health Organisation Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus acknowledged that countries battling the pandemic are rightly prioritizing their own communities, but added that if they do not act now to help the poorest countries protect themselves, they would be failing to protect their own people.
As the pandemic continues to accelerate, the WHO chief said that most worrying of all was the danger the virus poses to people already affected by the crisis. spreading to countries with weak health systems, including some which are already facing humanitarian crises.
The agency had sent a clear message to all countries to “heed this warning now, back this plan politically and financially today and we can save lives and slow the spread of this pandemic”.
Meanwhile, UNICEF chief Henrietta Fore expressed dismay that Lockdowns and school closures are affecting the mental health of children, their access to basic health services and raising the risks of exploitation and abuse.
Fore noted that with support from the international community, among other things, we can “shore up preparedness and response plans in countries with weaker healthcare systems” and provide short- and long-term assistance on the health, well-being, development, and prospects of children.