The World Health Organization is requesting the sum of $675 million to fund a Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan for three months, the Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanon Ghebreyesus announced today at a press briefing in Geneva, Switzerland.
The announcement is coming as the number of confirmed cases soared globally with the highest number of increase in a single day recorded today according to WHO.
Also, majority of cases outside China had contacts with Wuhan,though human to human transmissions had been reported.
“As of 6am Geneva time this morning, there are 24,363 confirmed 2019nCoV cases in China and 490 deaths.
” In the last 24 hours, we had the most cases in a single day since the outbreak started,” WHO D-G said at the briefing.
But there is good news. The majority of confirmed cases are still confined to China, with 80% of cases in China found at the Hubei province where it first broke out.
The WHO D-G said:
“So far, 99% of the 2019nCoV cases arr in China and 80% of cases in China are from Hubei province.
“The relatively small number of cases outside China gives us a window of opportunity to prevent this outbreak from becoming a broader global crisis.”
The WHO Chief said that after his announcement that some high income countries were lagging behind in information sharing, the countries had improved with information sharing.
He reiterated the concern of the organisation as the possibility of spread to countries with weaker health systems that may not have the capacity to diagnose or detect the virus, warning that “we are only as strong as the weakest link.”
Dr. Tedros said WHO would continue to support efforts by the government of China to address the outbreak at the source, noting that the world “must not forget how difficult this is for the people of Wuhan.”
Furthermore, the DG of the UN Health Agency says it has released $9 million from its contigency fund and sent valuable medical consumables out their stores to combat the outbreak.
“WHO has released a total of $9 million from our own Contingency Fund for Emergencies.
“WHO is sending half a million masks; 350,000 pairs of gloves; 40,000 respirators; and almost 18,000 isolation gowns from our warehouses in Dubai and Accra to 24 countries, and we will add more countries.”
However, that cannot be a success story. And Dr Tedros acknowledged this, noting that “we need to do more.”
“That’s why today we are launching a Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan, to support countries to prevent, detect and diagnose onward transmission.
“We are requesting $675 million to fund the plan for the next three months. $60 million of that is to fund WHO’s operations – the rest is for the countries that are especially at risk.
“$675 million is a lot of money, but it is much less than the bill we will face if we do not invest in preparedness now. Once again, we cannot defeat this outbreak without solidarity – political solidarity, technical solidarity and financial solidarity.”
Dr. Tedros said that people were right to be worried and concerned but it was not the time for fear or panic.
“It’s a time for rational, evidence-based action and investment, while we still have a window of opportunity to bring this outbreak under control,” Dr Tedros said.
Despite the huge amount of money required to fund the plan, it is a better option when one considers the alternative.
Thus, Dr. Tedros’ message to the international community is clear and specific: “Invest today, or pay more later.”