The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has urged unity, as the agency comes under continued fire from US President Donald Trump.
Speaking on Wednesday, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus defended the WHO’s work and called for an end to the politicisation of COVID-19.
Trump said he would consider ending US funding for the UN agency.
The president accused the WHO of being “very China-centric” and said they “really blew” their pandemic response.
Dr Tedros has now dismissed the comments, insisting: “We are close to every nation, we are colour-blind.”
After first attacking the WHO on Tuesday, President Trump renewed his criticism at his press briefing on Wednesday, saying the organization must “get its priorities right”. He said the US would conduct a study to decide whether the US would continue paying contributions,
Also answering questions at the briefing on Wednesday evening, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the administration was “reevaluating our funding with respect to the World Health Organization.
“Organisations have to work. They have to deliver the outcomes for which they were intended,” Mr Pompeo said.
COVID-19 first emerged last December in the Chinese city of Wuhan, which has just ended an 11-week lockdown.
An advisor to the WHO chief earlier said that their close work with China had been “absolutely essential” in understanding the disease in its early stages.
Mr Trump’s attacks on the WHO come in the context of criticism of his own administration’s handling of the pandemic.
French President Emmanuel Macron also reportedly offered his support to the World Health Organization in a call to Dr Tedros on Wednesday.
“He reaffirmed his trust, his support for the institution and refuses to see it locked into a war between China and the USA,” a French presidency official told the Reuters news agency.
African leaders defend WHO
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has called the World Health Organization (WHO) and its head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus “exceptional” after they were criticised by US President Donald Trump.
Mr Trump tweeted on Tuesday that the WHO was “very China-centric” yet it is “largely” funded by the US.
He warned that he could stop funding the global health organisation.
Mr Ramaphosa tweeted that the leadership of Dr Tedros, who is from Ethiopia, during the COVID-19 pandemic was “incalculable”:
— Cyril Ramaphosa 🇿🇦 #StaySafe (@CyrilRamaphosa) April 8, 2020