WHO pins hopes on US funds despite Trump’s bashing

Foreign Desk Report

NEW YORK: The head of World Health Organization’s (WHO) has said he is confident the United States will continue its financial contribution to the U.N. agency that is spearheading the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic that has engulfed much of the globe.
The comments by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus come nearly a week after President Trump criticized the agency for waiting too long to call the outbreak a pandemic and said he was considering a freeze or cut in U.S. funding to the organization.
“What I know is that he is supportive, and I hope that the funding to WHO will continue,” Tedros said Monday during a virtual press conference in response to a question about Trump’s threat. “The relationship we have is very good, and we hope that this will continue.”
The U.S. government provided nearly 15% of WHO’s $5.6 billion budget for 2018 and 2019 $237 million through assessments and $656 million in voluntary payments, according to media report. Last week, President Trump tweeted that WHO “really blew it” in its response to the ongoing global pandemic.
“For some reason, [WHO is] funded largely by the United States, yet very China-centric. We will be giving that a good look,” Trump said. Analysts say it would be difficult for Trump to unilaterally withdraw congressionally approved funds from WHO, but some discretionary payments could be slashed. The coronavirus has infected more than 1.8 million people worldwide and killed over 117,000.
Tedros, WHO’s director general, also outlined his agency’s latest advice to countries stressing that a mix of social distancing, testing, contact tracing and isolation, will be crucial to further curb the spread of the coronavirus. “We’re all learning all the time and adjusting our strategy, based on the latest available evidence”, said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, summarizing the guidance which will be available in full on the agency’s website on Tuesday.
While some countries have already endured several weeks of social and economic restrictions and are now considering easing them others are just beginning to consider whether and when to introduce such controls. “We can only say what we know, and we can only act on what we know”, said Tedros, emphasizing that emerging evidence is beginning to crystalize a better understanding of COVID-19, how it behaves, how to treat it and how to halt its further spread.