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
“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.