The World Health Organisation‘s special envoy for COVID-19 has urged any recriminations about the organisation to be left until after the virus has been defeated.
US President Donald Trump on Tuesday halted funding to the organisation over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
EXPLAINED: What the World Health Organisation actually does
“If in the process you decide you want to declare that you’re going to withdraw funding or make other comments about the WHO, remember this is not just the WHO, this is the whole public health community that is involved right now and every single person in the world is a public health worker now, everybody is taking responsibility, everybody is sacrificing, everybody is involved.”
The head of WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the organisation regreted the decision by the US and a review was underway to assess the impact it would have.
“The United States of America has been a longstanding and generous friend to WHO and we hope it will continue to be so,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference in Geneva.
“We regret the decision of the president of the United States to order a halt in funding to the World Health Organisation,” Tedros said, adding the organisation would work with its partners to fill any financial gaps “and to ensure our work continues uninterrupted.”
Nations and health experts worldwide reacted with alarm Wednesday after President Donald Trump announced a halt to the sizable funding the United States sends to the World Health Organisation. They warned that the move could jeopardize global efforts to stop the coronavirus pandemic.
At a briefing in Washington, Trump said he was instructing his administration to halt funding for the WHO pending a review of its role “in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus.”
The United States is WHO’s largest single donor, contributing between 400 million US dollars and 500 million US dollars annually to the Geneva-based agency in recent years.
Trump has repeatedly labelled COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” and criticized the UN health agency for being too lenient on China, where the novel virus first emerged late last year.
Tedros cautioned that division would allow the virus to “exploit the cracks between us,” stressing “we are committed to serving the world’s people and to accountability for the resources with which we are entrusted.”
The WHO chief said Wednesday that the UN health body’s performance in tackling the pandemic would be reviewed in due course and identify room for improvement “but for now, our focus, my focus is on stopping this virus and saving lives.”
Worldwide, the pandemic has infected over 2 million people and killed over 128,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. But it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death for some people, especially older adults and people with existing health problems.
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