In a tweet posted earlier today, Bill Gates, a co-founder and former CEO of Microsoft, said that Trump’s decision to put WHO funding on hold “is as dangerous as it sounds.” He said the global organization was helping to slow the spread of COVID-19 and that no other organization can replace it in the role it plays. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, according to the 2018-2019 budget published by WHO, is the second biggest donors to the organization after the United States.
Halting funding for the World Health Organization 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.— Bill Gates (@BillGates) April 15, 2020
Trump said funds from the U.S. were now halted until a review has been conducted over whether the organization is “severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus.” In the 2018-2019 budget, the United States contributed around $400 million, it’s not clear what effect this will have going forward but it could affect the COVID-19 response, especially in developing countries that rely on WHO assistance.
Gates isn’t alone in his criticism, leaders from the UK, Germany, China, the American Medical Association, the EU, Australia, New Zealand, and the Democratic Party (U.S.) have all said that withdrawing funding is the wrong decision, especially at this time, and undermines international co-operation to defeat COVID-19.
According to the World Health Organization’s website, as of April 7, it has bought and shipped PPE to 133 countries. Equipment included 974,000 surgical and N95 masks, 1 million boxes of gloves, 115,500 gowns, 18,000 goggles, and 34,000 face shields. It also said that 2.8 million pieces of PPE are ready to be shipped to 79 countries.
Aside from PPE, the WHO has provided information to the public about coronavirus which can be accessed at who.int, it has supplied 1.5 million diagnostic kits to 126 countries to increase their clinical management capacity with additional shipments on their way to 10 more countries, it has developed multilingual online courses to help fight COVID-19, and it has co-ordinated Solidarity Trials which are helping to accelerate research and find effective treatments for the disease.