Wed | May 27, 2020

WHO on defensive after Trump slams it on virus

Published:Wednesday | April 8, 2020 | 1:03 PM
In this Monday, March 9, 2020 file photo, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization speaks during a news conference on updates regarding on the novel coronavirus COVID-19, at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP, file)

GENEVA (AP) — The World Health Organization was on the defensive Wednesday after US President Donald Trump blasted the UN health body over its recommendations on the coronavirus and threatened to strip hundreds of millions of dollars that had come from its top single donor.

Some African leaders rallied around the WHO’s Ethiopian-born director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who declined to respond to questions about Trump’s specific criticisms and said, “Why would I care about being attacked when people are dying?”

“I know that I am just an individual. Tedros is just a dot in the whole universe. I prefer to really focus on saving lives,” he said at the WHO’s daily media briefing.

The United States contributed nearly $900 million to the World Health Organization’s budget for 2018-2019, according to information on the agency’s website, an amount that represented one-fifth of the WHO’s total $4.4 billion budget for those years.

The US gave nearly three-fourths of the funds in “specified voluntary contributions” and the rest in “assessed” funding as part of Washington’s commitment to UN institutions.

A more detailed WHO budget document provided by the US mission in Geneva showed the United States provided $452 million in 2019, including nearly $119 million in assessed funding.

In its most recent budget proposal from February, the Trump administration called for slashing the US contribution to the WHO to $57.9 million.

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