South Africa says U.S. decision to suspend funding for WHO “regrettable”

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Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), speaks at a press conference after the WHO emergency committee's meeting on the novel coronavirus in China at its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Jan. 22, 2020. (Xinhua/Liu Qu)
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO)

South Africa on Thursday expressed concern over U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to halt funding to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The South African government is very concerned and alarmed at the announcement by Trump to suspend funding for the WHO, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation said in a statement.

Trump announced on Tuesday that his administration is halting the nation’s funding to the WHO, accusing the organization of “failing to adequately obtain, vet, and share information in a timely and transparent fashion.”

South Africa is particularly alarmed that the decision is made amid a global health crisis that requires a full-capacity WHO to provide support in combatting the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, spokesperson Clayson Monyela said.

“It is alarming that this very regrettable decision is announced as this deadly virus strikes Africa and the poorest and most vulnerable states,” said Monyela.

The WHO is mandated to promote health and ensure universal health coverage globally and is tasked to lead global efforts to suppress the transmission and stop the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

“It is the sole global health agency, with the core focus on universal healthcare. As such, its efforts to coordinate a genuinely global response against this scourge should be recognized and supported,” said Monyela.

With the coronavirus cases escalating at a rapid pace by the day, the announcement by the U.S. to cut its funding to the WHO will have a significantly adverse impact on its programs, and the world’s ability to fight and eliminate this pandemic, Monyela said.

At this time now more than ever, the international community has to stand together and work in the spirit of human solidarity and cooperation with one another, he said.

“We believe that, more than ever before, the WHO deserves increased support from member states in particular to bolster its efforts to suppress transmission and stop the pandemic,” Monyela said.

South Africa is hopeful that the U.S. government will reconsider its decision and re-join the international community in fighting this pandemic, he said. Enditem

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