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People's Daily Online

U.S. defunding WHO amid world health crisis, drawing criticism

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 13:27, April 16, 2020

WASHINGTON, April 15 (Xinhua) -- With a rise of 2,494 over the past 24 hours, the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 has reached 28,364 Wednesday, as the total confirmed cases amounted to nearly 640,000, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally.

However, U.S. President Donald Trump announced a day earlier that his administration is suspending funding to the World Health Organization (WHO), at a time when the specialized UN agency for international public health is coordinating global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The U.S. has been a longstanding and generous friend to WHO, and we hope it will continue to be so," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a virtual press conference from Geneva on Wednesday, adding the WHO regretted the U.S. decision.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates tweeted on Wednesday that halting funding for the WHO during a world health crisis is "as dangerous as it sounds."

"Their work is slowing the spread of COVID-19 and if that work is stopped no other organization can replace them. The world needs @WHO now more than ever," the philanthropist stressed.

The U.S. plan to withhold funding to the WHO is one more move of the administration that should come under scrutiny as a recent investigation report done by the Washington Post has revealed multiple failures from the White House in responding to COVID-19.

The post noted in the story published early April that the government received its first formal notification of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in China as early as Jan. 3, but did not treat it in a more serious manner until 70 days later.

"That more-than-two-month stretch now stands as critical time that was squandered," the story wrote.

Besides, it pointed out "the most consequential failure involved a breakdown in efforts to develop a diagnostic test that could be mass produced and distributed across the United States."

Other failures, according to the story, "cascaded through the system."

"The administration often seemed weeks behind the curve in reacting to the viral spread, closing doors that were already contaminated," it said.

"Protracted arguments between the White House and public health agencies over funding, combined with a meager existing stockpile of emergency supplies, left vast stretches of the country's health-care system without protective gear until the outbreak had become a pandemic."

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