THE United Nations (UN) Secretary General, Mr Antonio Gutteres has warned the international community against pulling out financial resources from the World Health Organisation (WHO) at a time when the world is grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic.
By Michael Gwarisa
The call comes hours after United States President, Donald Trump announced that the US would be suspending funding WHO operations for allegedly siding with the Chinese government instead of handling the situation in a manner that would have seen the virus not spreading to other parts of the globe.
In a statement, Mr Gutteres said the World Health Organization, with thousands of its staff, is on the front lines, supporting Member States and their societies, especially the most vulnerable among them, with guidance, training, equipment and concrete life-saving services as they fight the virus and now more than ever, they need support.
As I said on 8 April: “The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most dangerous challenges this world has faced in our lifetime. It is above all a human crisis with severe health and socio-economic consequences. It is my belief that the World Health Organization must be supported, as it is absolutely critical to the world’s efforts to win the war against COVID-19.
“This virus is unprecedented in our lifetime and requires an unprecedented response. Obviously, in such conditions, it is possible that the same facts have had different readings by different entities. 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,” he said.
He added that 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 is 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.”
Meanwhile, the United States is currently the biggest funder to the WHO and its decision to pull the plug is likely to have a devastating effect on the global health landscape. As of March 2020, the US had provided a total of US$57.9 million to the World Health Organization while China was second, providing a total of US$28.7 million.
Japan came third, providing US$20.5 million, Germany US$14.6 million, United Kingdom US$10.9 million, France US$10.6 million, Italy US$7.9 million and Brazil US$7.1 million.