US$2B humanitarian response plan for poor countries fighting COVID 19- UN announces

DPI, Guyana, Wednesday, March 25, 2020

The United Nations (UN) this morning unveiled a US $2Billion humanitarian response action plan to support poor countries that are combating the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

With some 375, 498 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 16,000 deaths around the world, the United Nations this morning said it is gravely concerned about the impact the pandemic is having on poor countries that are already struggling with weak health systems and vulnerable populations.

During a live broadcast, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the interagency plan brings together the World Health Organization (WHO) and other UN partners.

“Properly funded, it will save many lives and arm humanitarian agencies and NGOs with laboratory supplies for testing, and with medical equipment to treat the sick while protecting health care workers.  The plan also includes additional measures to support host communities that continue to generously open their homes and towns to refugees and displaced persons.”

With only a small number of poor countries so far reporting cases of COVID, the UN said it expects the numbers to rise. According to the Secretary General, these are countries that are already facing severe humanitarian crises.

The UN Secretary-General said the intergovernmental organization is doing its utmost to plan and respond to early recovery in countries around the world that will need the most help.

According to him, the world needs to act now to stem the impact of COVID-19 in already vulnerable humanitarian contexts. Support must also be maintained for existing humanitarian response plans on which some 100 million people depend.

Director-General of the World Health Organisation Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said now is the time for solidarity in the face of the global threat.

“As you know, the pandemic has accelerated over the last two weeks and is a threat to people everywhere. What is most important is the danger the virus poses to people already affected by crises, people and communities already uprooted due to conflict, displacement and the climate crises are the ones we must urgently prioritise,” Dr Ghebreyesus noted.

Addressing the six-point plan the WHO official stated that the public must be effectively prepared for the critical measures needed to help suppress the spread and protect vulnerable groups including the elderly and persons with underlying health issues.  Second, Dr Ghebreyesus said there must be a ramping up of surveillance and lab testing to quickly identify and isolate infected persons.

“Prioritise treatment for those at the highest risk of severe illness and slow, suppress and stop transmission to reduce the burden on healthcare facilities. This means safe hand washing, testing, isolating cases and encouraging community-level physical distancing and suspension of mass gatherings and international travel,”.

Dr Rose said the global community must continue to improve surveillance and prevention and treatment and ensure equitable access to the poorest for all research and developmental breakthroughs. The humanitarian supply chain he said must also be protected so that frontline workers are protected.

“Our message to all countries is clear, back this plan politically and financially today and we can save lives and slow the spread of this pandemic.”