Coronavirus: Austria supports Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan of WHO

As announced by the Foreign Ministry, two million euros will provide immediate aid to Palestine, Iran as well as the WHO’s Africa and Eastern Mediterranean Regions. The money will secure essential medical preparedness, treatment and information services.

Countries with poor health care services are especially vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes several key countries of Austrian Development Cooperation, such as Burkina Faso and Palestine. According to a situation report of the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of infections there is relatively low (345 and 254, respectively) – for now. Without further measures to contain the virus, however, health care systems in these two and many other countries will be on the brink of collapse. The WHO is supporting them to overcome this global challenge. With two million euros, Austria is doing its part to provide quick and coordinated aid on site.

Swift aid and solidarity

"The whole world is holding its breath because of the spread of the coronavirus. Especially people in countries with poor health care systems are at risk. For them, an uncontrolled, rapid spread of COVID-19 would be fatal. These are the people we need to protect. Quick, unbureaucratic aid is the order of the day. With our contribution to the WHO’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Plan, Austria meets its international responsibility", says Martin Ledolter, managing director of the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), which handles the the financial disbursement. One million euro is made available for the respective WHO programs in Iran, Palestine and the Eastern Mediterranean region, one more million for the WHO Africa region.

"We appreciate the quick and generous response by the Austrian Government to provide support and show solidarity at a time when its needed most", says Gerald Rockenschaub, head of the WHO office in Palestine. 250,000 euros will help the Palestinian Ministry of Health to battle the crisis. A state of emergency has been declared in Palestine on March 5.

Contribution to overcome Global Health crisis

The WHO’s preparedness and response plan aims to stop the spread of the virus and strengthen health care in Iran, Palestine as well as the WHO Africa Region and the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region. The latter includes 21 countries as well as the Palestinian West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In Africa, WHO and ADA will focus on Burkina Faso, Burundi, Comoros, Mali, São Tomé and Príncipe as well as the Central African Republic. Strengthening local structures is preparation and response at the same time, bridging the connection between long-term development cooperation and immediate emergency aid.

Containment – Preparedness – Response

Through large-scale campaigns, the program informs people how to protect themselves and others against an infection. About 20 million people will benefit from the measures in Africa alone. Local health care workers and hospitals will be prepared for the treatment of COVID-19 patients through training and procurement of medical supplies in order to be better equipped to contain of the virus. The WHO is working closely with local authorities and is emphasizing cross-border data exchange. This will help strengthen countries on a local and regional level to overcome the corona crisis. The Austrian contribution allows for testing and isolation of suspected cases, steady supply of protective equipment and purposeful research.