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WHO’s emergency funding needs global rethink

Image by CDC/Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM - This media comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Public Health Image Library (PHIL), with identification number #23312 - Wikimedia Commons

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The battle to save lives should not be made reliant on public generosity or left to private enterprises, writes JD Lovrenciear

In the wake of the precarious and threatening global coronavirus outbreak, the World Health Organization (WHO) is reported to be doing all it can to find a prescription that can save lives and stall the spread of this new virus. 

The outbreak threatens to slow down the global economy, and even the WHO is also paralysed with funding issues.

The WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ call for additional funding to fight the virus has apparently received a lacklustre response. “We have put together a response plan and announced the need for financing in the amount of US$675m (RM2.82bn).

“There are some pledges, but considering the urgency and considering we’re fighting a very dangerous enemy, we’re surprised that the response is not really something we would expect,” he said.

While nations across the globe are scrambling to review how their how the coronavirus would it their national economies, the WHO’s financial setback is most crucial.

Perhaps world leaders need to come together to rethink and chart a reliable plan to ensure that institutions responsible for global wars against threats to human health do not suffer because of lack of funds or get paralysed when such funding is suddenly pressed upon them without warning as in the case of this coronavirus epidemic, which could turn into a pandemic.

All WHO member nations could be required to set aside a percentage of their national growth returns as a seed fund for the WHO’s emergency response to global disasters.

Seeking emergency funds from potential sponsors in the midst of such disasters smacks of a desperate effort, which should not have been the case.

Ultimately, the battle to save lives should not made reliant on public generosity or left to private enterprises. It must be an integral mechanism of the global political framework.

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