Bill and Melinda Gates say Trump’s halting of WHO funding is dangerous and ‘does not make any sense’ as the philanthropists pledge an extra $150 million to fight coronavirus pandemic
- Trump announced halt in US funding to World Health Organization on Tuesday
- Bill and Melinda Gates slammed his decision as one that ‘doesn’t make sense’
- The Gates have also pledged an additional $150milliion to fight the pandemic
- The philanthropic Gates Foundation’s new commitment brings its COVID-19 funding for the international response to date to $250million
- Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID
By VALERIE EDWARDS, 16 April 2020
(Daily Mail) — Pulling funding from the World Health Organization (WHO) is a dangerous and nonsensical move when the world is facing the health crisis brought on by the COVID-19 disease pandemic, Bill and Melinda Gates said on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump announced a halt in US funding to the WHO, saying it had ‘failed in its basic duty’ in allowing the pandemic to take hold.
Announcing an extra $150million of funding from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help speed the development of treatments, vaccines and public health measures to tackle the new coronavirus outbreak, Melinda said the WHO was ‘exactly the organization that can deal with this pandemic’.
While speaking with ABC News anchor David Muir on Wednesday ‘Bill said: ‘I’m hopeful that he doesn’t follow through on that because we need their support.’
‘This is a global problem. They are the institution that brings nations together and make sure that we are sharing best practices between all of those countries,’ he added.
Melinda then said: ‘I think it’s worth saying, we’ve been working with the WHO for over 20 years as a foundation.
‘And no institution is perfect, but it’s the global response that’s going to get us through this, and WHO was created after World War II to deal with exactly these kinds of issues around the world.
‘So halting funding right now, that just doesn’t make any sense,’ Melinda told Muir.
The Gates Foundation is the second largest donor to the WHO behind the United States. Melinda said earlier that cutting WHO funding in a health crisis was ‘as dangerous as it sounds’.
The WHO’s Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday he regretted Trump’s decision.
He said the organization was still assessing the impact and would ‘try to fill any gaps with partners’.
The philanthropic Gates Foundation’s new $150million commitment brings its COVID-19 funding for the international response to date to $250million, but Gates said any gap left in the WHO’s funding would be very hard for others to fill.
Alongside support for new diagnostics, drugs and vaccines, the Gates money is primarily aimed at helping poorer countries and vulnerable populations handle the oncoming and spreading pandemic and the poverty it will cause.
‘We really as a global community need to address what is now just beginning in African and South Asian countries. We see a huge need, and that’s why we have more than doubled our commitment,’ Melinda said.
Praising what she described as ‘heroic work’ by local leaders and healthcare workers in poorer countries seeking to protect vulnerable communities and slow the spread of COVID-19, Melinda said the world’s response to the pandemic ‘will not be effective unless it is also equitable’.
‘Whenever a health crisis hits like this, it’s the people on the margins that it hits the very most,’ she said.
‘They’re the ones we need to help to ensure things like cash transfer payments are made and they have access to primary healthcare.’
There are currently no effective vaccines, drugs or other immune system treatments approved to treat COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
The couple’s foundation is backing eight projects seeking potential solutions for COVID-19 vaccine development and has co-funded enhanced virus detection capacity in Africa as well as contributing to the response in China.