The director-general of the World Health Organization called for global unity and continued focus on saving lives and fighting the common enemy, COVID-19, on Wednesday—a day after US President Donald Trump attacked the organization for allegedly “severely mismanaging” the pandemic response. Trump announced he would halt funding to the WHO until his administration reviewed its response.
The WHO, an agency formed in the 1940s by the United Nations and supported by its member states, receives around 15 percent of its funding from the United States.
“We regret the decision of the President of the United States to order a halt in funding to the World Health Organization,” WHO director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (aka Dr. Tedros) said in a press briefing Wednesday. “With support from the people and government of the United States, WHO works to improve the health of many of the worlds poorest and most vulnerable people,” he went on.
In addition to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, WHO is working on beating back polio, measles, malaria, Ebola, HIV, tuberculosis, malnutrition, cancer, diabetes, mental health, and many other diseases and conditions, he said. “We also work with countries to strengthen health systems and improve access to life-saving health services.”
Its unclear how the loss of US funding will affect the organizations various activities, particularly the ones dealing with the current global health crisis. The organization is now reviewing potential impacts and plans to work with partners to try to fill any necessary gaps to keep its work going, Dr. Tedros said in the briefing. He added that he will inform the press on the findings of the review and plans to address funding gaps when they are complete.
In an apparent response to Trumps criticism over its handling of the pandemic, Dr. Tedros also noted that its member states and independent bodies will review is response to the pandemic “in due course.”
“No doubt, areas for improvement will be identified and there will be lessons for all of us to learn,” he said. “But for now, our focus—my focus—is on stopping this virus and saving lives.”
He urged everyone to do the same. “This is a time for all of us to be united in our common struggle against a common threat—a dangerous enemy. When we are divided, the virus exploits the cracks between us.”
The message is a familiar one for Dr. Tedros, who has made “solidarity” a constant slogan of the global public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Please quarantine politicizing COVID,” he pleaded in an April 8 press conference when asked about Trumps previous criticism of the organization. “We will have many body bags in front of us if we dont behave.” He added then: “When there are cracks at national level and global level thats when the virus succeeds. For Gods sake, we have lost more than 60,000 citizens of the world.”
That figure has since more than doubled. As of April 15, there are more than 2 million cases worldwide and 133,000 dead from the novel coronavirus, which exploded out of Chinas Hubei province less than four months ago. Now, the United States is the epicenter of the pandemic, with more than 632,000 cases and nearly 28,000 deaths.
With the globe now in the thick of a health and economic crisis, public health experts unanimously stood with WHO, chastising Trumps attacks and funding halt.
That includes the head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert Redfield. In a Wednesday morning interview on Good Morning America, Redfield noted that “CDC and WHO has had a long history of working together in multiple outbreaks throughout the world, as we continue to do in this one. And so, weve had a very productive public health relationship. We continue to have that.”
He added that hed “like to do the postmortem on this outbreak” but only “once we get through it together.”
Other critics were less diplomatic in their response to Trumps attacks.
Dr. Peter Piot—who is the director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and a professor of global health—said the following in a media statement: “Halting funding to the WHO is a dangerous, short-sighted, and politically motivated decision, with potential public health consequences for all countries in the world, whether they are rich or poor.”
Robert Dingwall, a professor of sociology at Nottingham Trent University, added that “the freeze on funding for WHO by the US government is a typically petulant act against an international organization that Read More – Source