WHO calls on richer countries to contribute US$16 billion for pandemic plan for poorer nations

WHO calls on richer countries to contribute US$16 billion for pandemic plan for poorer nations
FILE PHOTO: A doctor with Doctors Without Borders (MSF) attends to Marco Vargas, a patient who has the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at a hospital where the organization is helping address mental health challenges faced by patients with the disease, in Caracas, Venezuela February 1, 2022. REUTERS/Leonardo Fernandez Viloria

The backstory:

  • We’ve more or less heard that the pandemic has led to more inequality between the rich and poor within the same country, but it’s also exacerbated the wealth gap between richer and poorer countries.
  • While wealthier nations look to safeguard their own borders, poorer countries with weaker infrastructure and systems and fewer resources struggle more to cope with the pandemic.
  • But experts have said that ensuring poorer nations can fight against the pandemic is key to ending COVID-19 altogether – for various reasons, one being to reduce the chances of variants developing.
  • About half the world’s countries missed The World Health Organization’s (WHO) target to vaccinate at least 40% of their populations by the end of 2021. In October of last year, the WHO said that wealthier countries had used 75% of all the vaccines produced, while lower-income nations have received about half of 1%.
  • The WHO also has an Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator program (which includes COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access, or COVAX). It aims to spread tests, treatments, vaccines and medical equipment to low and middle-income countries. In October of last year, it appealed to wealthier nations to raise US$23.4 billion, US$16 billion of which would be dedicated to the main program. The WHO only raised US$800 million.

The development:

  • On Wednesday, the WHO asked richer nations to contribute US$16 billion to a program aimed at providing access to COVID-19 vaccines as well as various treatment and COVID-19 containment methods, like tests to poorer nations.
  • The WHO’s proposal includes getting higher-income nations to donate under a “fair share” model, in proportion to the size of their economies and contribution to world trade.

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