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Tue. Aug 4th, 2020

Trump’s suspension of WHO funding amidst COVID-19 crisis attracts worldwide anger – portraying him as barrier in the fight against the pandemic

Photo by Evan Vucci/AP/Shutterstock (10434333bm) Donald Trump, Sauli Niinisto. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto in the Oval Office of the White House, in Washington Trump, Washington, USA – 02 Oct 2019

By George Kalisa

The US President Donald Trump on April14 said his country had moved to suspend funding to WHO accusing the UN group of grave mismanagement and being “China-centric”, stressing that if WHO had, in time, imposed ban on Chinese flights the novel Coronavirus would not, in the first place, have left the Wuhan city where it started last December.

Many observers now say that Trump is using WHO as a scapegoat and diversion to his failure to contain the Coronavirus in his country

Trump made the announcement to suspend funding to WHO while a review is conducted at the Rose Garden presser announces.

The US had recorded 664,348 out of 2,084,049 COVID-19 cases worldwide with 28,554 deaths out of 134,669 deaths globally as of April16 and the country that is leading the world in the number of COVID-19 cases has recorded 25 new deaths and 259 new cases.  

“WHO failed in its basic duty and must be held accountable,” says Trump, “It would have been so easy to be truthful and so much death has been caused by their mistakes”.

“The outbreak could have been contained at its source with very little death,” Trump says. “The WHO pushed China’s misinformation about the virus,” he added, accusing WHO of sidelining with China’s misinformation and delay to take appropriate response and impose tough measures on China including travel bans.

Trump still demands accountability of the funds WHO receives.

“We’ll be discussing it other countries and global health partners what we do with all that money that goes to WHO. And maybe WHO will reform,” said Trump.

When houses have caught fire and one of the firefighters begins to blame a resident for fueling the fire instead of joining efforts to put it off, the act is not only inhumane but criminal in all perspectives.

To make matters worse is the person’s decision to withdraw their own contribution towards the ending of the fire.

Absolutely, that is exactly what President Trump has done by withdrawing funding from the World Health Organisation amidst the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.

Reactions

“The US govt decision to suspend funding to @WHO is deeply regrettable. 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,” Moussa Faki Mahamat, The Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC).   

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. 

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.

“Cutting 15 percent (US contribution) of WHO budget during the biggest projected pandemic of the last century is an absolute disaster,” tweeted Dr  Bhadelia, “WHO is a global technical partner, the platform through which sovereign countries share data/technology, our eyes on the global scope of this pandemic”.  

Tedros, a former foreign minister of Ethiopia, also rejected Trump’s suggestion that the WHO was “China-centric”, saying: “We are close to every nation, we are colour-blind.”

“This is like suspending firefighters while they are trying to save your house from the flames, pending a review of whether the trucks arrived later than they should. The world needs to focus on fighting #covid19 not each other and it needs @WHO to do that,”  Kai KUpferschmidt

“I’ve been so angry since President Trump threatened to defund @WHO last night. Yes, it is imperfect. It’s also necessary and has been starved of core funding – largely because of the United States – for four decades,” Chelsea Clinton

Before the briefing had concluded, Democrats and public health officials expressed their outrage over the suspension of U.S. support for the WHO.

“Withholding funds for WHO in the midst of the worst pandemic in a century makes as much sense as cutting off ammunition to an ally as the enemy closes in,” said Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee.

He suggested Trump was trying to deflect attention from the laggard federal response to the crisis by blaming a little-known U.N. agency for its operations in China.

“The White House knows that it grossly mishandled this crisis from the beginning, ignoring multiple warnings and squandering valuable time, dismissing medical science, comparing COVID 19 to the common cold, and saying, ‘Everything will be fine,’” Leahy added.

“Since the beginning, the WHO has been fighting the pandemic with every ounce of our soul and spirit. We will continue to do that until the end. That’s our commitment to the world,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization

In his reaction to Trump’s order, Tedros Ghebreyesus said that this is a time for all of the international community to be united to put up a “common struggle against a common threat” and he hopes the US will continue to be a friend to WHO.

“COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate between: -rich & poor or large & small nations -nationalities, ethnicities or ideologies neither do we. This is a time for all of us to be united in our common struggle against a common threat – a dangerous enemy,” said Tedros Ghebreyesus.

“The US has been a longstanding & generous friend to @WHO & we hope it will continue to be so. We regret the decision of @realDonaldTrump to order a halt in funding to WHO. Together, we can improve the health of many of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people #COVID19” tweeted Tedros Ghebreyesus, in his response to President Trump’s decision to halt funding to WHO.

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