NEW YORK (TURKISH JOURNAL) – By Janet Ekstract – United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is urging everyone to step up the fight against the global pandemic of the coronavirus. To that end, the UN is launching what Guterres terms a “humanitarian appeal.” The secretary-general said: “It is a humanitarian appeal for those countries in conflict – refugee camps, displacement camps.” The continents Guterres mentioned include the Middle East, Africa and South America. The appeal is the first of its kind and is called the Solidarity Response Fund to raise money through a wide range of donors to support the work of the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners to help countries respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund will allow private individuals, corporations and institutions worldwide to collaborate to directly contribute to the global response effort. The fund was created by the United Nations Foundation and the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation, in cooperation with WHO.
Guterres commented that all agencies have been mobilized in this effort to work together for this to make sure “we are able to have a strong push for preventions.” The secretary-general said that the goal is to get the proper medical equipment and protective gear to the areas that need it. He said there are many places where people live in slums or there is no water in the household or no soap and that things are rudimentary. The UN chief said these types of situations make it even more crucial to get aid to the places that need it most to help combat the coronavirus.
He explained: “The whole of humanity must fight back. Individual country responses are not going to be enough,” and he appealed to governments to lend their support which he said is a “moral imperative.” Guterres added that this is a “necessity for global health security.” The new interagency plan to combat COVID-19 combines existing appeals from the World Health Organization and other UN organizations, while identifying new needs. With regard to the $2B launch, the secretary-general commented: “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.”
Guterres reiterated the urgent need to bring aid to the most vulnerable worldwide: “We must come to the aid of the ultra-vulnerable – millions upon millions of people who are least able to protect themselves.” He added: “This is a matter of basic human solidarity.” The most crucial, the UN chief said is to make sure countries in conflict receive priority as well as developed nations with strong health systems who are being crushed by the number of new patients and the need for additional medical supplies.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, The World Health Organization (WHO) echoed support for the UN effort. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had an urgent message to impart: “Our message to all countries is clear, heed this warning now, back this plan politically and financially today, and we can save lives and slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The WHO chief made his appeal at a press conference Wednesday that launched the United Nation’s Global Humanitarian Response Plan, an interagency point by point action plan that will address the coronavirus that calls for $2 billion in funding and focuses on those most vulnerable. The WHO’s director-general Ghebreyesus and UN Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs, Mark Lowcock outlined a summary of their points in an opinion piece for the Washington Post that was published on Tuesday. A major point is that the economic impact of the spread of COVID-19 will exacerbate existing inequality and injustice for those who are economically disadvantaged. Other points made were that since COVID-19 has reached war zones, many people haven’t access to good hygiene and don’t have access to a hosptial bed if they get seriously ill. The other point is that nations with severe humanitarian crisis caused by war, natural disaster or climate change are in dire need of this monetary aid to receive the proper healthcare needs.
To that end, WHO explained part of its point by point action plan: The first step WHO’s director-general said is crucial is that the public must be effectively prepared for the critical measures that are needed to help suppress the spread and protect vulnerable groups, like the elderly and those with underlying health conditions. The steps prioritize treatment for those at the highest risk of severe illness. Other steps are to slow, suppress and stop transmission to reduce the burden on health facilities. This means safe handwashing, testing, isolating cases and contract tracing, encouraging community level physical distancing and the suspension of mass gatherings and international travel.
As the UN secretary-general reiterated: “We need to do everything to prevent the disease to come to those areas as much as possible. We will work together with NGOs to make sure we are able to have a strong push for prevention. We will contact with those who are affected.” The secretary-general as well as the EU and the U.S. have been diligently urging war-torn nations and countries in conflict to agree to ceasefires on humanitarian grounds. The UN chief added: “We massively need support for those areas and health services in those areas need to be boosted. “We are at a critical point in the global response to COVID-19 – we need everyone to get involved in this Ghebreyesus said: “We are immensely grateful to the UN Foundation and the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation for coming forward to help us set up this fund. A lot of people and institutions have been saying they want to contribute to the fight against the novel coronavirus. Now they can.”
UN Foundation President and CEO, Elizabeth Cousens said: “The case for global cooperation could not be clearer – communities everywhere are affected, and people want to contribute. This new fund will create space for people everywhere, together, to fight this virus.”
WHO along with its partners seek financing for protective equipment for frontline health workers; to equip diagnostic laboratories; improve surveillance and data collection; establish and maintain intensive care units; strengthen supply chains; accelerate research and development of vaccines and therapeutics as well as taking other critical steps to scale up the public health response to the pandemic.