Geneva, April 15
The World Health Organization (WHO) is purely focused on saving lives and halting the coronavirus pandemic, its chief said on Wednesday after US President Donald Trump announced he was freezing funding for the WHO.
“There is no time to waste. WHO’s singular focus is on working to serve all people to save lives and stop the COVID-19 pandemic,” director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Twitter as criticism poured in from all over the world.
The United Nations, Russia, China, the European Union, the African Union and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, another major WHO contributor through his foundation, flayed Trump’s move to put financial squeeze on WHO.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said it was not the time to reduce resources for the WHO. “Now is the time for unity and for the international community to work together in solidarity to stop this virus and its shattering consequences,” he said in a statement.
China, which has won WHO praise for its actions to curb the virus’s spread, urged the United States on Wednesday to fulfil its obligations to the WHO. “This decision weakens the WHO’s capability and harms international cooperation,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Twitter: “Deeply regret US decision to suspend funding to WHO. There is no reason justifying this move at a moment when their efforts are needed more than ever.”
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said apportioning blame did not help. “The virus knows no borders,” he said in a tweet.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the WHO was essential to tackling the pandemic. “At a time like this when we need to be sharing information and we need to have advice we can rely on, the WHO has provided that,” she said. “We will continue to support it and continue to make our contributions.”
Meanwhile, French government spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye also said that France regrets US President’s decision to cut funding for the WHO.
Taking a softer stand Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he sympathised with Trump’s criticisms of the WHO, “but it also as an organisation does a lot of important work.”
US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi called President’s decision senseless and dangerous, and said it would be challenged. mdash; Agencies