One year ago WHO created the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund to respond to the unprecedented show of support by individuals and companies to help WHO in the fight against COVID-19. Powered by the UN Foundation and the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation, it was developed as an innovative platform to enable private companies, individuals and other organizations to contribute directly to WHO’s efforts to prevent, detect, and respond to COVID-19 around the world.
The fund’s first year has seen unprecedented solidarity: to date, more than 661 000 donors have contributed nearly US$ 250 million. The funds have been used to provide millions of frontline workers with critical personal protective equipment, medical supplies, and testing kits; to manage misinformation and the infodemic; support vulnerable populations like refugees and displaced persons; and helped accelerate the research on vaccines, tests, and treatments.
“I sincerely thank every individual, corporation and other organization for their donations to the Solidarity Response Fund,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Your generosity has made a difference. On the fund’s one-year anniversary, we have seen what we can accomplish together in times of need”.
The Solidarity Response Fund has been a critical source of funding for the WHO’s overall response. Since the beginning of the pandemic, WHO has shipped nearly 250 million items of personal protective equipment and vital medical supplies including oxygen across more than 150 countries, strengthened hundreds of national and subnational laboratories with technical support, supplied more than 250 million COVID-19 tests; coordinated the deployment of more than 180 teams across the world; and supported more than 12 000 intensive care beds in health systems that might otherwise have been overwhelmed.
Despite this progress, current trends show that the fight is far from over. That’s why today the fund launches a renewed call for action for funds to contribute to the estimated US$ 1.96 billion required by WHO in 2021 to respond to remaining and new challenges in the fight against COVID-19.
Contributions to the next phase of the fund will support the efforts of WHO and its partners to continue to suppress transmission, reduce exposure, counter misinformation, protect the vulnerable, reduce mortality and morbidity and accelerate equitable access to new COVID-19 tools – including through WHO’s work with the ACT-Accelerator, to scale up vaccination globally, particularly for the most vulnerable countries, and ensure the delivery of life-saving supplies.
The recently launched WHO Foundation will lead the next phase of the Solidarity Response Fund to support the continuing fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, working in collaboration with the United Nations Foundation and a global network of fiduciary partners.
“The COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund galvanized an astonishing outpouring of global generosity beyond anything we have seen before. We put all the resources of the UN Foundation behind this task and were overwhelmed by the global response that enabled us to get critical funds to the most urgent needs in the devastating first year of the pandemic. The Solidarity Response Fund is a true testament to the power of collective action, and what can be achieved when people from every sector and every corner of the world act together to respond to overcome a collective threat,” said Elizabeth Cousens, President and CEO of the UN Foundation.
Launched in May 2020, the WHO Foundation is an independent grant-making organization that supports WHO’s efforts to address urgent global health challenges.
“COVID-19 has affected all of us. Every country. Every company. Every community. It was inspiring to see the world rally behind the WHO last year in the form of hundreds of thousands of contributions to its Solidarity Response Fund. That money was put to good use and saved countless lives,” said Anil Soni, CEO of the WHO Foundation. “I am committed to maintaining the success of the Fund as a vehicle for individuals and corporations to power the global fight against COVID-19. This pandemic won’t be over anywhere until it’s over everywhere, and donations to the Solidarity Response Fund help move the world towards that goal.”
The COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP), and accompanying guidelines, issued in February 2021, fully articulates the basis for WHO’s appeal. The document guides coordinated action that WHO must take at national, regional, and global levels to overcome the ongoing challenges in the response to COVID-19, address inequities, and plot a course beyond the pandemic.
“We have achieved so much over the past year. Unfortunately, the pandemic is far from over and we can’t give up the fight yet. We thank you for your contributions and seek your continued support to beat COVID-19.” added Dr Tedros.
Based on a city where the mountain meets the sea and where antique houses line the streets, my mind is free to wonder, to wander and to write.
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