Trump's WHO spat wrecks crucial G20 coronavirus statement

Trump's WHO spat wrecks crucial G20 coronavirus statement
2 min read
20 April, 2020
Trump’s hostility to the WHO and the divisions that followed prompted leaders to issue a brief statement from the G20 meeting instead of a detailed statement.

Trump has cut aid to the WHO [Getty]
US President Donald Trump's recent spat with the UN’s World Health Organisation (WHO) has affected the publication of an important statement by G20 health ministers amid the global coronavirus pandemic.

Trump’s hostility to the world body and the divisions that followed prompted leaders to issue a brief statement from the meeting instead of a detailed and lengthy statement.

The G20 statement was silent on US President Donald Trump's decision last week to cut off Washington's bilateral funding to the WHO.

Trump has accused the UN body of mishandling the coronavirus crisis.

The US contributed $400 million to the WHO last year.

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres has condemned the US suspension of funds, saying it was "not the time to reduce" the WHO's resources.

Read also: Pro-Trump lawmaker launches bill allowing coronavirus victims to sue China

The WHO remained "absolutely critical" in the global fight against the virus, he said.

Saudi Arabia's Health Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, who was hosting the virtual summit, even cancelled the planned press conference on Sunday for a reported urgent local coronavirus task-force meeting.

The six-paragraph statement failed to mention WHO, however briefly highlighted systemic weaknesses in global health systems.

"Health ministers recognised that the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted systemic weaknesses in health systems," they said in a joint statement.

"It also has shown vulnerabilities in the global community's ability to prevent and respond to pandemic threats.

"Ministers addressed the need to improve the effectiveness of global health systems by sharing knowledge and closing the gap in response capabilities and readiness."

The worldwide death toll from the novel coronavirus pandemic rose to 167,426 on Monday, while more than 2,438,831 declared cases have been registered in 193 countries and territories since the epidemic first emerged in China in December. 

The novel coronavirus has upended the lives of billions of people as nations imposed lockdown measures to curb its spread, sending the global economy into a tailspin.

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