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Holy See donates to WHO fund for medics on pandemic front line

Holy See donates to WHO fund for medics on pandemic front line

The headquarters of the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. PHOTO FROM WHO

By Catholic News Agency

May 20, 2020

VATICAN— The Holy See has pledged to contribute to the World Health Organization’s emergency fund supplying protective equipment to medics fighting the coronavirus, an archbishop has said.

Addressing the World Health Assembly, held remotely in Geneva, Switzerland, May 18-19, Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič highlighted the Church’s efforts to combat the disease that has claimed the lives of more than 319,000 people worldwide as of May 19.

He said: “The Holy See has pledged to contribute to the WHO Emergency Fund for the supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to front-line medical workers and has already made various donations to the regions in need of urgent help.”

The World Health Assembly is the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO’s 194 member states normally send delegations to the assembly, which usually takes place in May in Geneva.

Archbishop Jurkovič, the Holy See’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, reiterated Pope Francis’ appeal for potential vaccines to be made available to everyone infected with the coronavirus, regardless of their geographic location.

He also underlined the Holy See’s support for the global ceasefire proposed by United Nations secretary-general António Guterres.

Referring to the pope’s Easter Urbi et Orbi Message, the archbishop said: “Throughout the world, some 5,000 Catholic-inspired hospitals, and more than 16,000 Church-based dispensaries, are complementing and reinforcing the efforts of governments to provide healthcare to all, by assuring that the poorest and most marginalized persons ‘do not lack basic necessities … such as medicine and especially the possibility of adequate health care.’”

He continued: “The participation of the Church in this common effort was recently reinforced with the creation of the Vatican COVID-19 Commission by Pope Francis. It has already launched several projects to bring help to those populations most affected by the pandemic.”

Archbishop Jurkovič praised WHO officials for holding discussions with religious leaders “in the common effort to ensure that religious gatherings are held with all the necessary sanitary measures.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping addressed the assembly May 18, saying that he supported an “objective and impartial” review of the pandemic, which was first detected in Dec. 2019 in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province. He also announced that China would donate $2 billion to fighting the virus.

“All along we have acted with openness, transparency, and responsibility,” Xi said.

In a letter to WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Monday, President Donald Trump said he would permanently cut off U.S. funding to the organization if it failed to address what he called its “alarming lack of independence” from Beijing.

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