Nepal | May 30, 2020

WHO head defends handling of coronavirus pandemic against Trump criticism

Reuters
Share Now:

GENEVA: The head of the World Health Organization gave a strident defence of his agency’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday, in response to US President Donald Trump’s criticism and suggestions that Washington could review its funding for the agency.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for unity and a halt to “politicization” of the global health crisis, specifically urging China and the United States to show “honest leadership”.

Tedros said he expected US funding to continue with traditional bipartisan support.

Trump and his administration repeated its criticism, on Wednesday. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington was re-evaluating US funding to the body, saying international organizations utilizing US taxpayer money needed to deliver on their goals. But he objected to a leadership change at the WHO at this time.

US contributions to the WHO in 2019 exceeded $400 million, almost double the second-largest country donor, according to US figures. The WHO website shows the United States as its top donor, contributing nearly 15% of the budget.

Trump told the daily White House briefing on the coronavirus that Beijing’s payment was a small fraction of Washington’s WHO contribution, and that was “not fair at all.”

“So, we’re going to do study, investigation. And we’re going to make a determination as to what we’re doing. In the meantime, we’re holding back. We … want to see.”

Trump said the WHO issued a statement on Jan. 14 saying “there was no human-to-human transmission” and criticized him “very strongly” when he said he was going to shut down flights from China.

Tedros said the WHO had “kept the world informed about the latest data, information and evidence” and noted that Thursday would mark 100 days since China first notified the organization of cases of “pneumonia with unknown cause” on Dec. 31.

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

Earlier, Dr Bruce Aylward, senior adviser to Tedros, also defended the UN agency’s relationship with China, saying its work with Beijing authorities was important to understand the outbreak.

“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,” said Aylward, who led a WHO expert mission to China in February.

In an interview with KDKA Radio, Pompeo said: “I think it’s pretty clear that the World Health Organization hasn’t lived up to its billing, it hasn’t been able to achieve what it was designed to achieve, and we just can’t continue to permit that to go on. We’ve got to find a way.”

Pompeo was asked at the coronavirus briefing whether it was time to change the WHO leadership and replied: “This is not the time to be doing that kind of change.”

‘WE MAKE MISTAKES’

In New York, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday now was not the time to assess the global response to the pandemic, calling instead for the international community to focus on working in solidarity to stop the virus.

Tedros said his UN agency would conduct its usual assessment of its performance after the emergency and draw lessons about its strengths and weaknesses, adding: “We make mistakes like other human beings.”

He summarised his advice as: “Please, unity at national level, no using COVID for political points. Second, honest solidarity at the global level. And honest leadership from the US and China.”

“The most powerful should lead the way and please quarantine COVID politics,” he added, referring to COVID19, the highly contagious, sometimes deadly illness caused by the new coronavirus.

Tedros said Beijing and Washington should follow the example of what the former Soviet Union and the United States did in 1967 when they launched a 10-year global campaign that eradicated smallpox, a disease then killing 2 million people annually.

Tedros rejected “racist slurs” against him, which he said had originated in Taiwan, and disclosed that he had also received a death threat during the crisis.

“We are losing people, why would I care about being attacked when people are dying?” he said, noting there were already “60,000 body bags” after more than 1.3 million infections.

“We will have many body bags in front of us if we don’t behave,” he added.

 


Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

Are we doing enough for the mental health of healthcare workers?

The number of coronavirus patients has been increasing over the past few days in Nepal. In the current scenario, it seems like the numbers would further increase in the coming days. Given that healthcare workers and frontline staff are the first responders to manage the ongoing pandemic with limited Read More...

Italy's Serie A gets green light for June 20 restart

Sports minister Spadafora says top-flight soccer can resume Italian Cup matches could be staged before league restarts Serie A will be fourth of Europe's top five leagues to return Juventus hold one point lead over Lazio with 12 games left ROME: Italy's top-flight Serie A soccer le Read More...

English Premier League announces June 17 restart

League to resume season subject to safety requirements Starts with Villa v Sheffield Utd and Man City v Arsenal Full fixture list scheduled for weekend of June 19-21 All of the remaining 92 fixtures to be broadcast live MANCHESTER, ENGLAND: The Premier League season will restart Read More...

UN, AI demand impartial probe into Rukum incident

Kathmandu, May 28 The attention of United Nations in Nepal has been drawn to the incident in Rukum (west), where five Dalit youths lost their lives and two went missing when the Dalit youths were chased by a group of villagers. The Dalit youths had gone to the village to help their friend marry a Read More...

‘Nepali Congress will support new map of Nepal’

Kathmandu, May 28 Nepali Congress Spokesperson Bishwa Prakash Sharma said at a press conference today that his party would stand in favour of the newly issued country’s map when the issue would come up in the Parliament but the party had reserved the right to take an organisational decision on Read More...

SC rules lockdown time as zero period  

Kathmandu, May 28   The Supreme Court today ruled that the period between March 22 and the time when the lockdown would end should be considered zero period for those whose deadline for filing or contesting cases or joining court proceedings had lapsed.   The grand Full bench of the apex Read More...

Zuckerberg distances Facebook from Twitter in Trump fight

SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg took pains to distance his company from Twitter and its fight with US President Donald Trump on Thursday, as the White House moved to scrap a law protecting social media companies. Republican Trump, who accuses social media firms of b Read More...

Budget size reduced by 3.8pc to Rs 1.47 trillion

Due priority given to health, employment generation and relief for crisis-hit businesses Khatiwada sets 7pc growth target for next fiscal Kathmandu, May 28 Amid uncertainties due to the spread of COVID-19 in the country, Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada today unveiled a federal budget Read More...