US suspends funding of WHO over COVID-19 pandemic …As UN faults timing, says ‘not the time’
United States President, Donald Trump has made good his earlier threat to suspend payments to the World Health Organisation WHO, while it reviews virus warnings regarding China.
US contributed about 15per cent of WHO budget in 2019. Other top funders are Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, GAVI, United Kingdom and Germany. A quarter of budget went to polio eradication, 12per cent on access to healthcare, five per cent on outbreak prevention and control while half of all spending was in Africa.
Trump said on Tuesday that he had instructed his administration to suspend funding to the WHO over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, in a move that drew immediate condemnation.
Trump, at a White House news conference, claimed the WHO had “failed in its basic duty and it must be held accountable”.
Available statistics show that US coronavirus deaths top 25,000 as confirmed cases near 600,000 while New York virus deaths top 10,000 as officials say more testing needed
The President accused the group of promoting China’s “disinformation” about the virus that likely led to a wider outbreak of the virus than otherwise would have occurred.
Trump said the US would continue to engage with the WHO in pursuit of what he calls meaningful reforms. He added that the “hold” on funding would continue while the US reviews the organisation’s warnings about the coronavirus and China.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said it was “not the time” to be reducing funds to the WHO or any other organisation fighting the pandemic.
“Now is the time for unity and for the international community to work together in solidarity to stop this virus and its shattering consequences,” Guterres said in a statement.
The WHO did not immediately comment.
Writing on social media, Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, an infectious diseases specialist and the medical director of the Special Pathogens Unit at Boston University, said withdrawing funding would be a disaster.
The US President, himself has been under pressure over his handling of the outbreak, has been feuding with the UN agency as he seeks to apportion blame for the gravity of the crisis.
The US has now reported more than 600,000 cases of coronavirus, the highest in the world.
Reacting to Trump’s previous threats, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said last week that it was not the time for such rhetoric.
“The focus of all political parties should be to save their people. Please don’t politicise this virus,” Tedros said at a press briefing in Geneva last week.
“If you want to have many more body bags, then you do it. If you don’t want many more body bags, then you refrain from politicising it … We will have many body bags in front of us if we don’t behave.”