Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General, said the agency regretted the decision of President Donald Trump of the U.S. to halt funding the agency.
Ghebreyesus stated this at a virtual news conference in Geneva on Wednesday.
Trump had on Tuesday announced that he would halt funding to the WHO while a review is conducted.
The U.S. pays between $400 million to $500 million to the WHO each year.
The director-general said with support from the people and government of the United States, WHO works to improve the health of many of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.
“WHO is not only fighting COVID-19; we’re also working to address polio, measles, malaria, Ebola, HIV, tuberculosis, malnutrition, cancer, diabetes, mental health and many other diseases and conditions.
“We also work with countries to strengthen health systems and improve access to life-saving health services.
“WHO is reviewing the impact on our work of any withdrawal of U.S. funding and will work with our partners to fill any financial gaps we face and to ensure our work continues uninterrupted.’’
According to him, when the nations of the world met to form the United Nations in 1945, one of the first things they discussed was establishing an organisation to protect and promote the health of the world’s people.
“They expressed that desire in the constitution of WHO which says that the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being.
“It is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.
“That creed remains our vision today,’’ he said.
The director-general said the USA had been a longstanding and generous friend to WHO and he hoped it would continue to be so.
“Our commitment to public health, science and to serving all the people of the world without fear or favour remains absolute.
“Our mission and mandate are to work with all nations equally, without regard to the size of their populations or economies.
“COVID-19 does not discriminate between rich nations and poor, large nations and small. It does not discriminate between nationalities, ethnicities or ideologies.
“Neither do we; this is a time for all of us to be united in our common struggle against a common threat – a dangerous enemy.
“When we are divided, the virus exploits the cracks between us,’’ he said.
Ghebreyesus said WHO was committed to serving the world’s people, and to account for the resources with which we are entrusted.
“In due course, WHO’s performance in tackling this pandemic will be reviewed by WHO’s Member States and the independent bodies that are in place to ensure transparency and accountability.
“This is part of the usual process put in place by our Member States.
”No doubt, areas for improvement will be identified and there will be lessons for all of us to learn.
“But for now, our focus – my focus – is on stopping this virus and saving lives,’’ Ghebreyesus said.
He added that WHO is grateful to the many nations, organisations and individuals who have expressed their support and commitment to global body in recent days, including their financial commitment.
“We welcome this demonstration of global solidarity, because solidarity is the rule of the game to defeat COVID-19.
“WHO is getting on with the job.
“We are continuing to study this virus every moment of every day, we are learning from many countries about what works, and we are sharing that information with the world,’’ he said.