The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) on Friday announced an agreement to work together on the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
The fund is intended to facilitate an unprecedented global response against the pandemic by supporting the WHO Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan.
Established three weeks ago by the UN Foundation and Swiss Philanthropy Foundation, at the request of WHO, the fund is currently the only opportunity for individuals and organizations across the world to contribute directly to WHO’s efforts to tackle the pandemic.
Till date, more than 219,000 individuals as well as 90 global companies and organizations have contributed over total of USD 127 million to the fund.
Director-General of the World Health Organization Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated, "COVID-19 is an unprecedented pandemic requiring extraordinary global solidarity to urgently respond. I am pleased that UNICEF joined the Solidarity Response Fund. With their extensive experience both in fundraising and in implementing programmes, this partnership will help us to work together closely to save lives."
As part of the agreement between UNICEF and WHO, an initial sum of money, which currently stands at over USD 127 million, will be contributed to UNICEF.
UNICEF will head emergency efforts to ensure that families and communities in the most vulnerable countries are engaged in the COVID-19 response and have access to water, sanitation and other infection prevention measures. It will also utilise community outreach and country programs to ensure that children, caretakers and frontline responders such as social workers, teachers and healthcare workers are supported through evidence-based guidance.
"This is an extraordinary emergency that demands an extraordinary response, and we need all hands on deck - individuals, corporations, foundations, governments and other organizations around the world", asserted UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.
“UNICEF is pleased to join the Solidarity Response Fund. It will bolster our efforts to strengthen health and sanitation systems and help protect the most vulnerable families from knock-on impacts of COVID-19 on already overstretched health systems”.
The money collected through the fund will be utilised to train and equip communities to prevent, detect and treat COVID-19 as well as aid countries expand healthcare capacity and mitigate the pandemic's social impact on vulnerable groups including women and children. The fund will also accelerate research and development of treatments and preventive vaccines.
The funds will be directly funnelled to WHO, UNICEF and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) in accordance to the global response plan.
WHO will use funds collected through the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund in efforts to track the spread of the virus, assess gaps and needs, equip frontline health workers with personal protective equipment, ensure lab and testing tools are available in countries around the world, and keep communities and frontline responders up to date on the latest technical guidance.
The funds will support UNICEF's efforts to ensure that children and families around the world have access to evidence-based information including the latest WHO guidance as well as locally relevant information to protect themselves from the spread of COVID-19.
As a key partner leading the financing for research and development of vaccines to combat COVID-19, CEPI will closely collaborate with WHO.
The partnership between UNICEF and WHO also demonstrates solidarity across UN organizations in dealing with immediate and long-term impacts of the ongoing pandemic.
"There has never been a more urgent need for global cooperation,” said Elizabeth Cousens, President and CEO of the UN Foundation.
“The COVID-19 pandemic shows us that we all can play a part to stop the spread. The incredible generosity shown to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund from around the world will help WHO, UNICEF, CEPI and partners accelerate their lifesaving work, especially to support the most vulnerable communities and speed the development of a vaccine".