UN Secretary General responds to Trump suspension of WHO funding
UN Secretary General António Guterres has just released a statement on the World Health Organization, following Trumps’ decision earlier to suspend funding to the WHO.
Most of the statement repeats his comments from 8 April.
“As I said on 8 April,” he writes, ‘Once we have finally turned the page on this epidemic, there must be a time to look back fully to understand how such a disease emerged and spread its devastation so quickly across the globe, and how all those involved reacted to the crisis. The lessons learned will be essential to effectively address similar challenges, as they may arise in the future.
But now is not that time.’
“ As it is not that time, it also not the time to reduce the resources for the operations of the World Health Organization or any other humanitarian organization in the fight against the virus.
As I have said before, now is the time for unity and for the international community to work together in solidarity to stop this virus and its shattering consequences.”
—Donald Trump has blamed the World Health Organi zation for failures in the initial response to the coronavirus pandemic , even threatening to cut its funding, but most health experts say it has performed well with limited resources.
Accusing the WHO of giving bad advice, being “China-centric” and even withholding information, Trump claimed to have stopped US funding in a press briefing on Tuesday, only to claim a few minutes later that he was just considering it, pending a review of its performance.
In fact, the US is already about $200m in arrears in assessed contributions (national membership fees). It has given more in donations, and was the biggest single donor in 2019 – certainly far more than China, which gives a paltry amount given the size of its economy.
But the US is far from providing the majority of the WHO’s funds, as Trump claimed, and its voluntary contributions have largely been tied to specific projects. WHO’s total annual budget is about $2.5bn, and contributions from member states have not significantly increased over three decades.
“The WHO’s budget is around the equivalent of a large US hospital, which is utterly incommensurate with its global responsibilities,” said Lawrence Gostin, a public health law professor at Georgetown University. “So, if the US president were a global health leader, he’d be leading a call to at minimum double the WHO budget in the face of this pandemic.”
DEMOCRAT AND SPEAKER OF HOUSE REPRESENTATIVES REACTS:
Pelosi: ‘A poor leader takes no responsibility’
In a letter to House Democrats, Nancy Pelosi said that the president has had an “incompetent reaction” to the crisis. “Trump is now a disaster, causing the suffering of countless Americans & endangering lives,” she told her colleagues.
“A weak person, a poor leader, takes no responsibility. A weak person blames others. The truth is, from this moment on, Americans must ignore lies and start to listen to scientists and other respected professionals in order to protect ourselves and our loved ones,” the House speaker said.