Answer. The World Health Organization (WHO), the UN’s health agency, has played a crucial role in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, ever since the first cases were identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December.
Helping countries to prepare and respond
The plan, which is updated as fresh information and data improve WHO’s understanding of the characteristics of the virus and how to respond, acts as a guide for developing country-specific plans. The health agency’s six regional offices, and 150 country offices, work closely with governments around the world to prepare their health systems for the ravages of COVID-19, and to respond effectively when cases arrive and begin to mount.
With partners, WHO set up the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, to ensure patients get the care they need, and frontline workers get essential supplies and information; and to accelerate research and development of a vaccine and treatments for all who need them. With donations from governments, the private sector and individuals, more than $800 million has been pledged or received for the response so far.
Providing accurate information, busting dangerous myths
The internet is awash with information about the pandemic, some of it useful, some of it false or misleading. In the midst of this “infodemic”, WHO is producing accurate, useful guidance that can help save lives.
This includes around 50 pieces of technical advice for the public, health workers and countries, with evidence-based guidance on every element of the response, and exploding dangerous myths. The health agency benefits from the expertise of a global network of health professionals and scientists, including epidemiologists, clinicians and virologists, to ensure that the response is as comprehensive, authoritative and representative as possible.
Ensuring vital supplies reach frontline health workers
Personal protective equipment is essential to ensure health professionals are able to save lives, including their own. So far, WHO has shipped more than two million items of personal protective equipment to 133 countries, and is preparing to ship another two million items in the coming weeks. More than a million diagnostic tests have been dispatched to 126 countries, in all regions, and more are being sourced.