Enlarge /. The Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, is attending a daily press conference at the WHO headquarters in Geneva on March 11, 2020 on COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
The director of the World Health Organization called for global unity on Wednesday and continued to focus on saving lives and fighting the common enemy COVID-19 – a day after US President Donald Trump attacked the organization for allegedly "severely abusing the pandemic." “Had an answer. Trump announced that he would stop funding WHO until his government reviewed its response.
WHO, an agency founded by the United Nations in the 1940s and supported by its member states, receives about 15 percent of its funds from the United States.
"We regret the decision by the President of the United States to end funding for the World Health Organization," said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (aka Dr. Tedros), WHO Director General, at a press conference on Wednesday. "With the support of the population and the United States government, WHO is working to improve the health of many of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world," he continued.
In addition to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, WHO is working to combat polio, measles, malaria, Ebola, HIV, tuberculosis, malnutrition, cancer, diabetes, mental health and many other diseases and conditions. "We are also working with countries to strengthen health systems and improve access to life-saving health services."
It is unclear how the loss of U.S. funding will affect the organization's various activities, particularly those that are concerned with the current global health crisis. The organization is currently evaluating potential impacts and plans to work with partners to close the gaps necessary for the work to continue, said Dr. Tedros in the briefing. He added that he would inform the press about the results of the review and plans to fill funding gaps when they are complete.
In an obvious response to Trump's criticism of how to deal with the pandemic, Dr. Tedros also said that its member states and independent bodies will review their response to the pandemic "in due course".
"There is no doubt that potential for improvement will be identified and lessons will be learned for all of us," he said. "But right now our focus – my focus – is on stopping this virus and saving lives."
He asked everyone to do the same. “This is a time when we are all united in our common struggle against a common threat – a dangerous enemy. When we are divided, the virus takes advantage of the cracks between us. "
The message is Dr. Tedros, who has made "solidarity" a constant buzzword in the global public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Please quarantine to politicize COVID," he said at a press conference on April 8 when asked about Trump's earlier criticism of the organization. "We'll have a lot of body bags in front of us if we don't behave." Then he added: "If there are cracks at the national and global levels, the virus is successful. For God's sake, we have lost more than 60,000 citizens of the world."
That number has more than doubled since then. As of April 15, there were more than 2 million cases worldwide and 133,000 deaths from the novel corona virus, which exploded less than four months ago from the Chinese province of Hubei. The United States is now the epicenter of the pandemic, with more than 632,000 cases and nearly 28,000 deaths.
With the globe in the midst of a health and economic crisis, public health experts unanimously supported the WHO and chastised Trump's attacks and cessation of funding.
This includes the head of the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert Redfield. In a Wednesday morning interview about Good Morning America, Redfield stated that “The CDC and WHO have long been working together on multiple outbreaks around the world, as we do in this case. So we had a very productive relationship with public health. We still have that. "
He added that "he would like to do the post-mortem on this outbreak," but only "if we did it together."
Other critics reacted less diplomatically to Trump's attacks.
Dr. Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and professor of global health, said in a media statement: "The termination of funding for WHO is dangerous, short-sighted and politically motivated decision with potential consequences for public health for all countries World, whether they are rich or poor. "
Robert Dingwall, professor of sociology at Nottingham Trent University, added: “Freezing WHO funding from the US government is a typically irritable act against an international organization that has tried to maintain its integrity and impartiality rather than being president Trumps bow to temporary and fleeting prejudices. "
"Let us hope that President Trump and the review team quickly realize that it is now not the time to split and possibly weaken the UN health agency, which is busy coordinating the global response to the pandemic," said Dr . Gail Carson, director of network development at ISARIC (International Consortium for Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infections) at Oxford University said. "Look at the facts and there is plenty of evidence of all the good that WHO did during this pandemic."
Joshua Moon, Senior Research Fellow at the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex Business School, said:
To see how Trump threatens to receive funding from WHO in the middle of a pandemic is really heartbreaking. WHO has received so much criticism of its role in various public health emergencies over the past decade. I was one of those critics myself. However, this attack on WHO is a purely political step to distract and penetrate Trump's base.
In essence, the loss of US funding to WHO is a major problem that will affect the response to COVID-19 worldwide, will invite new and possibly unaccountable actors to the position of power that the United States previously held, and a contemptible one Is a lie traded by a politician who, in my opinion, tries to hide his own mistakes from his followers.
Stephen Griffin, medical professor and viral disease expert at the University of Leeds, repeated the thought, saying, “This recent President Trump intervention in public health policy is perhaps one of the least productive, short-sighted, self-motivated, and hypocritical acts I have done have ever seen. As far as I can tell, in reality it has no basis.
"The situation in the US and around the world is a crisis in which we have to stand together," he continued. "WHO is perhaps one of the best ways to do this and deserves the support and respect of all countries."