Covid-19: WHO backs debt relief to developing economies;lauds India

Covid-19: WHO backs debt relief to developing economies;lauds India

Geneva: The World Health Organisation (WHO) has exhorted governments to ensure life essentials for vulnerable sections while lauding India for its social welfare measures and also batted for extending debt relief to developing countries to help them address social and economic consequences of Covid-19.

 “I have called on governments to put in place social welfare measures to ensure vulnerable people have food and other life essentials during this crisis. In India, for example, Prime Minister Modi has announced a USD 24 billion package, including free food rations for 800 million disadvantaged people, cash transfers to 204 million poor women and free cooking gas for 80 million households for the next 3 months,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual news conference.

 “Many developing countries will struggle to implement social welfare programmes of this nature. For those countries, debt relief is essential to enable them to take care of their people and avoid economic collapse,” he added.

 The past week saw casualties due to coronavirus epidemic more than doubling with the WHO expecting confirmed cases to touch one million mark and deaths crossing 50, 000 in the next few days.

 The WHO chief observed that the health organization constantly reviews and updates guidelines in containing the disease spread.

 “Together with Unicef and the International Federation of the Red Cross, we’ve published new guidance for improving access to hand washing. It recommends that countries set up hand washing stations at the entrance to public buildings, offices, bus stops and train stations. We’re also working hard with researchers all over the world to generate the evidence about which medicines are most effective for treating COVID-19,” he said.

 So far 74 countries have joined ‘Solidarity trial’, its initiative to develop an effect drug against the disease. A study focusing on four drugs and drug combinations is on and over 200 patients have so far been randomly assigned to one of the study arms.

 “There’s an on-going debate about the use of masks at the community level. WHO recommends the use of medical masks for people who are sick and those caring them. However, in these circumstances, masks are only effective when combined with other protective measures,” he said.

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