Trump World Health Organisation funds freeze faulted

Thursday, April 16th, 2020 00:00 |
World Health Organisation. Photo/Courtesy

  Washington, Wednesday

The US decision to freeze funding to the World Health Organisation over what President Donald Trump said was its “mismanaging” of the global coronavirus pandemic triggered anger and concern across the globe on Wednesday.

Trump announced Tuesday that the United States would halt payments to the UN body that amounted to $400 million last year.

He said it would be frozen pending a review into the WHO’s role in “severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus,” said Trump, who accused the Geneva-based body of putting “political correctness above life-saving measures.”

Trump charged that the outbreak could have been contained “with very little death” if the WHO had accurately assessed the situation in China, where the disease broke out late last year.

This come even as world leaders weighed easing lockdowns that threaten to tip the global economy into a second Great Depression.

The death toll from the pandemic stood at 128,011 on Wednesday, with 2,000,984 people infected by the disease. 

Trump’s decision sparked an outrage across the globe. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres faulted Trump’s decision, saying: “(It is) not the time to reduce the resources for the operations of WHO or any other humanitarian organisation in the fight against the virus”.

“It is my belief that the WHO must be supported, as it is absolutely critical to the world’s efforts to win the war against COVID-19.”

Pandemic response

The African union said the US decision is   “deeply regrettable.” 

Moussa Faki Mahamat, the chairman of the AU Commission, said: “Today more than ever, the world depends on WHO’s leadership to steer the global #Covid_19 pandemic response.

Our collective responsibility to ensure WHO can fully carry out its mandate, has never been more urgent,” Faki said in a Twitter post. 

China and Germany added to international condemnation of Trump’s decision.

A foreign ministry spokesman said China was “seriously concerned” about the decision, which he said came during a “critical moment” in the pandemic.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said “blaming doesn’t help”.

He said one of the best ways to work to stop the spread of the virus was to strengthen the UN and WHO in the development and distribution of tests and vaccines.

 Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates weighed in on the matter.  “Halting funding during a world health crisis is as dangerous as it sounds.

Their work is slowing the spread of COVID-19 and if that work is stopped no other organisation can replace them. The world needs @WHO now more than ever.” 

Meanwhile, With tentative hope the pandemic could be past its peak in some European hotspots, many countries are gradually lifting restrictions -- to mixed reception.

Italy, one of the hardest-hit nations, allowed bookshops, launderettes, stationers and children’s clothing retailers to re-open, but many business owners chose to stay shut.

Spain has allowed work to restart in some factories and construction sites, Denmark opened schools on Wednesday after a month-long closure while Germany was expected to ease some measures. -AFP

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