UK pledges $250 million to WHO, other charities to help slow spread of coronavirus
The United Kingdom on Saturday announced that it would donate 200 million pounds ($248 million U.S.) to the World Health Organization (WHO) and other UK charities to help developing countries respond to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
Department for International Development Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said in a statement that the funds would support initiatives to assist health systems in particularly vulnerable nations and to prevent the virus from reemerging in the UK.
The funds include 130 million pounds ($161 million) for UN agencies, with 65 million pounds ($81 million) going to WHO, a UN body responsible for international public health. The money allocated for WHO will assist the group’s efforts to produce more accurate assessments of how the pandemic is progressing around the world.
“While our brilliant doctors and nurses fight coronavirus at home, we’re deploying British expertise and funding around the world to prevent a second deadly wave reaching the UK,” Trevelyan said.
“Our new UK aid support will help stop the virus from infecting millions of people in the poorest countries, meaning we can end this global pandemic sooner and prevent future waves of infection coming to the UK.”
The U.K. has reported roughly 80,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and about 9,900 deaths caused by it, according to a Johns Hopkins University database. More than 1.7 million cases of the virus and about 110,000 deaths worldwide had been confirmed as of Sunday morning.
The government’s statement on the aid package warned that an outbreak of the virus in developing countries could lead to its reemergence in the UK later this year, which could overwhelm its health system.
“Coronavirus does not respect country borders so our ability to protect the British public will only be effective if we strengthen the healthcare systems of vulnerable developing countries too,” Trevelyan added.
The announcement came after President Trump threatened to cut off funding to the WHO over its handling of the virus’s outbreak and its relationship with China. The U.S. is one of the world’s biggest financial contributors to the WHO.
“The United Kingdom’s generous contribution is a strong statement that this is a global threat that demands a global response,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “WHO is deeply grateful to the government and people of the United Kingdom for their generous contribution.
In addition to WHO, the UK aid package includes £50 million for Red Cross and £20 million to nongovernmental organizations (NGO) addressing the criss.
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