The United Kingdom has pledged £65 million ($81 million) aid package to the World Health Organisation (WHO), as part of efforts to help tackle the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The package is part of a broader £200 million package support to UK charities and international organisations to help eliminate mass infections in developing countries, which lacked the healthcare systems to track and halt the virus.
A news release issued by the UK Government and made available by the British High Commission in Accra, said the announcement brought the total amount of UK aid committed to the global fight against coronavirus to £744 million, making the UK one of the biggest donors to the international response.
“Health experts have identified the weakness of developing countries’ healthcare systems as one of the biggest risks to the global spread of the virus.
“They have also warned that if coronavirus is left to spread in developing countries, this could lead to the virus re-emerging in the UK later in the year and put further pressure on our NHS.”
It said the new UK aid package included; £130 million for UN agencies in response to their urgent appeal for support; of this, £65 million would go to the WHO, which is coordinating international efforts to end the pandemic sooner.
It said the UK funding for the WHO would help provide more accurate assessments of how the pandemic was progressing around the world, allowing support to be targeted, where it would save the most lives and stop the outbreak sooner, and helping countries respond to the virus.
It noted that the pandemic was particularly dangerous for countries with weak health systems that were already struggling to fight preventable diseases.
It said the funding would also help developing countries to rapidly identify and care for patients with symptoms in order to limit human-to-human transmission.
“Our investment will help install new hand-washing stations and isolation and treatment centres in refugee camps, and increase access to clean water for those living in areas of armed conflict.”
UK International Development Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan, said: “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”.
“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.”
The release noted that a further £50 million of the £200 million package would support the Red Cross in difficult to reach areas such as those suffering from armed conflict.
It said a final £20 million would go to NGOs, including; UK charities which were using British expertise and experience to deal with coronavirus.