WHO leader says that the agency has received global support

The head of the World Health Organisation’s European office is hailing a show of support, including some “commitments” from around the world, for the UN health agency after U.S. President Donald Trump announced a halt to funding for it.

Amid an increasingly fraught financial situation for the WHO as it battles the coronavirus outbreak, Dr Hans Kluge said: “We have been overwhelmed by the support of European countries.”

In an online briefing, the WHO’s regional director for Europe credited the U.S. for its historic support for the agency.

The U.S. is WHO’s top donor, contributing between $400 million to $500 million annually in recent years.

Mr. Trump on Tuesday ordered a temporary halt to U.S. funding pending a review of its alleged missteps in managing and responding to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We are looking at the finance situation. Some commitments have come in,” Mr. Kluge said, without elaborating. “But for the time, we’re in the midst of the crisis. So what we focus on is to save lives.”

Mr. Kluge said some countries like France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland have shown “optimistic signs in terms of declining numbers” in recent weeks, but the “small positive signals in some countries are tempered by sustained or increased levels of incidents in other countries, including the U.K., Turkey, Ukraine, Belarus and the Russian Federation“.

“The storm clouds of this pandemic still hang heavily over the European region,” Mr. Kluge said, noting that case numbers are still rising - and have doubled to nearly 1 million over the last 10 days.

He said the WHO’s European region is facing “about 50% of the global burden of COVID-19”.

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Printable version | Aug 8, 2020 8:53:04 PM |

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