The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Wednesday said it is reviewing the impact the funding withdrawal by the US will have on its operations.
The agency said it has begun working with partners to fill any resulting financial gaps, to ensure that its activities can continue uninterrupted.
Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus upheld WHO’s fundamental and founding commitment to public health and to science, and its mandate to work with all nations on equal terms.
“COVID-19 does not discriminate between rich nations and poor, large nations and small. It does not discriminate between nationalities, ethnicities or ideologies”, he said.
“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”.
WHO on Wednesday upheld the importance of international solidarity in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic: a “dangerous enemy” to all humanity.
Tedros was speaking to journalists a day after the United States announced that it was cutting funding to the UN health agency, pending a review of how the agency responded to the initial outbreak in China that first surfaced at the very end of December.
“The United States of America has been a longstanding and generous friend to WHO, and we hope it will continue to be so”, he said.
“We regret the decision of the President of the United States to order a halt in funding to the World Health Organization”.
Tedros underlined the agency’s commitment to serving the world’s people, but also to accountability for the use of its resources.
“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”, he stated.
Research continues into medicines to treat the new coronavirus disease, Tedros said, in an update on the “Solidarity Trial” launched on 18 March.
So far, more than 90 countries have either joined or expressed interest in the initiative to compare the effectiveness of four treatment options, with more than 900 patients enrolled.
“Three vaccines have already started clinical trials, more than 70 others are in development, and we’re working with partners to accelerate the development, production and distribution of vaccines”, said Tedros.
WHO has also convened groups of clinicians to study the impact of corticosteroids and other anti-inflammatory drugs on treatment outcomes.
“Specifically, we are looking at oxygen use and ventilation strategies in patients”, he said, adding that “any intervention that reduces the need for ventilation and improves outcomes for critically ill patients is important – especially in low-resource settings, to save lives”.
The health agency chief also reported on the first UN Solidarity Flights which on Tuesday transported personal protective equipment, ventilators and other lifesaving medical supplies to countries across Africa.
It is part of what he described as “a massive effort” to deliver these items to 95 countries worldwide, in conjunction with fellow UN agencies and other partners such as the Global Fund and the vaccine alliance, GAVI.
Said Tedros: “Whether it is by land, sea or air, WHO staff are working around the clock to deliver for health workers and communities everywhere”.