WHO launches global fund to battle coronavirus

The fund will provide a venue for people, companies and nations that want to help but do not know how to get involved, she said.

Michael J. Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme and Director-General of the WHO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, attend a news conference on the coronavirus (COVID-2019) (photo credit: REUTERS/DENIS BALIBOUSE)
Michael J. Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme and Director-General of the WHO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, attend a news conference on the coronavirus (COVID-2019)
(photo credit: REUTERS/DENIS BALIBOUSE)
 The World Health Organization launched a global fund on Friday to help countries battle the pandemic disease COVID-19 in a situation where needs are fast outpacing resources.
“Until now we have been relying mainly on governments to support the response,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a Geneva press conference in which he spoke of the creation of the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, hosted by the UN Foundation and the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation.
Some countries have already donated funds to help facilitate the WHO’s work, such as Japan which gave $150 million, he said, but a more coordinated effort is needed.
“We are at a critical point in the global response to COVID-19 – we need everyone to get involved in this massive effort to keep the world safe,” Tedros said in a WHO statement.
“A lot of people and institutions have been saying they want to contribute to the fight against the novel coronavirus. Now they can,” he added.
Kate Dodson, UN Foundation vice president for global health strategy, told reporters at a Thursday press conference that "the WHO has outlined a $675 million funding need for its COVID-19 response through April of this year alone. Resource needs will far outpace this initial estimate as the disease continues to spread."
The solidarity fund will assist the WHO and its partners to track the spread of the virus, support research and vaccine efforts and provide resources to countries, particularly those with weak health care systems, Dodson explained.
UN Foundation President and CEO Elizabeth Cousens told reporters, “This is a truly global crisis that we can not overcome without a truly global response. Local efforts are vital, but they will not be enough on their own.”
There is a strong case for collective action as the best way to combat the disease, she said.
The fund will provide a venue for people, companies and nations that want to help but do not know how to get involved, she said.
“We all have or will have friends or family that is impacted [by the disease]. We need all hands on deck,” Cousens said adding, “we are all in this together.”
Scott Pendergast, WHO director of strategic planning and partnerships, told reporters that the WHO was “looking at where the greatest risk is and in particular looking at countries with weaker health systems, that will need technical and operational support.”
Among the resources the WHO wants to make available is diagnostic tools, intensive care units, protective equipment, ventilators and oxygen, timely reporting on cases and public health messaging. It also wants to support research on the virus and vaccine development, he added.
The companies Facebook and Google have “instituted a matching scheme for funds raised through their platforms, the WHO said.
Donations can be made through www.COVID19ResponseFund.org and  [email protected]