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World Health Organization tells US, "now is not the time to cut back on funding"

World Health Organization tells US, "now is not the time to cut back on funding"

The World Health Organization has responded to remarks by US President Donald Trump threatening the suspension of its funding.

US President Donald Trump announced plans on Tuesday to put a hold on American funding of the World Health Organization, accusing the agency of being “very China-centric” and criticising its early guidance for responding to the COVID-19 Coronavirus.

At a Coronavirus task force briefing at the White House, President Trump said, “We're going to put a hold on money spent to the WHO. We're going to put a very powerful hold on it and we‘re going to see." However, minutes after the major declaration, he told reporters he was “looking into it” and admitted that a global pandemic was “maybe not” the best time to freeze funding.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Trump had tweeted “The W.H.O. really blew it. For some reason, funded largely by the United States, yet very China-centric. We will be giving that a good look,” 

The US is the top contributor to the health body based in Geneva, contributing over $400m in 2019. China contributed $44m.

On Wednesday, officials from the World Health Organization denied that it was 'China-centric', as claimed by President Trump, and said that now is not the time to cut funding. Dr Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe said, speaking at a virtual briefing;

"We are still in the acute phase of a pandemic so now is not the time to cut back on funding," 

The health body has also defended its relationship with China. Dr Bruce Aylward, senior advisor to the WHO director-general said;

"It was absolutely critical in the early part of this outbreak to have full access to everything possible, to get on the ground and work with the Chinese to understand this,"

"This is what we did with every other hard hit country like Spain and had nothing to do with China specifically."

President Trump and his allies have increasingly been criticising the WHO, claiming that the organisation has been relying on faulty data from China about the pandemic.

Around the world, over 83,000 people are confirmed to have died after testing positive for the COVID-19 Coronavirus, while there have now been close to 1.5 million confirmed cases announced.

 

U.S. Mission Photo by Eric Bridiers via Flickr under licence (CC BY-ND 2.0)

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