BMGF, Jack Ma donate funds to combat outbreak

We need $675m for preparedness, response against Coronavirus — WHO

By Sola Ogundipe & Gabriel Olawale

The World Health Organisation, WHO has launched a $675 million preparedness and response plan to fight the further spread of the new coronavirus outbreak in China and other countries across the globe covering the months of February through to April 2020.

Speaking in Geneva, Switzerland, after a stakeholder meeting, the WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for urgent support to bolster weak health system to detect, diagnose and care for people with the virus to prevent further human to human transmission.

“My biggest worry is that there are countries today that do not have the systems in place to detect people who have contracted with the virus, even if it were to emerge. Urgent support is needed to bolster weak health systems to detect, diagnose and care for people with the virus, to prevent further human to human transmission and protect health workers.”

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“The Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP) for the new coronavirus lays out activities and resources needed by international health organizations globally, including WHO, to implement priority public health measures in support of countries to prepare and respond to nCoV-2019 for a period February-April 2020.

“The objectives of the plan are to limit human-to-human transmission of the virus, particularly in countries most vulnerable if they were to face an outbreak; identify, isolate and care for patients early; communicate critical risk and event information; minimize social and economic impact; reduce virus spread from animal sources, and address crucial unknowns.

“The plan focuses on rapidly establishing international coordination and operational support; Scaling upcountry readiness and response operations and accelerating priority research and innovation.

Corroborating his views, Head of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, Dr. Mike Ryan said: “The effectiveness of outbreak response depends on the preparedness measures put in place before outbreaks strike. That is why we are seeking resources to safeguard the most vulnerable countries to protect people from the new coronavirus before it arrives on the doorstep.”

In a related development, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledges $100 million to help contain the spread of coronavirus even as the Co-founder of Alibaba, Jack Ma has donated 100 million yuan ($14.4 million) to vaccine research and virus treatment measures, his foundation said last week.

The WHO will immediately direct $20 million to groups including the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organisation while some funding will also be allocated to public health agencies in China and other countries affected by the outbreak.

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The BMGF is also focusing on countries in South Asia and Africa, where it says people have higher risks of contamination due to a lack of access to good health care. Up to $20 million will go to health authorities in these regions.

“The release of fast and flexible funding is intended to help multilateral organisations and national public health authorities rapidly scale up their virus detection capabilities and implement disease modeling analytics,” the group said in a statement.

This is “so that they can target resources where they can have the greatest impact in arresting disease spread,” it added.

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