GENEVA (AP) – Germany announced on Thursday that it will give half a billion euros to support the World Health Organization during the COVID-19 pandemic, but said reforms are needed to make the agency more transparent and responsible.
German Health Minister Jens Spahn said the country remains a “critical friend” of the World Health Organization.
Spahn said at a meeting of several Member States at the WHO headquarters in Geneva on Thursday that Germany would do its part to give WHO the political, financial and technical support it needed.
He said most of the more than $ 500 million was for the agency’s plan to stop the coronavirus pandemic. Part of the money – 110 million euros – was previously announced.
“This comes with a clear expectation that the remaining challenges will be adequately addressed and that the necessary reforms will be implemented,” said Spahn.
Last month, WHO agreed to Member States’ requests for an independent investigation into how it managed the global response to the coronavirus.
“We need a strong, efficient, transparent and responsible WHO more than ever,” said Spahn. He added that it is critical that “decision-making processes are driven by facts, not politics.”
In recent weeks, the WHO has been besieged by US President Donald Trump and others, who shot at its performance during COVID-19 and accused the agency of colluding with China to hide the magnitude of the outbreak when the virus first emerged turned up. Trump had previously stated that he was suspending US funding to the WHO and pulling his country out; it makes about $ 450 million a year as the agency’s largest donor.
An investigation by the Associated Press found that China delayed weeks in sharing critical information with the WHO and that the agency publicly praised China, while expressing internal frustration at the lack of cooperation from Chinese officials.
In addition to the money, Spahn said Germany would also supply medical equipment, including masks, to countries struggling with the pandemic.
“This is a clear sign of our commitment to the work of WHO,” said Spahn, warning that “isolated national responses to international problems are doomed to failure.”
French Health Minister Olivier Veran said France had previously announced that it would give the WHO 90 million euros to build an academy in Lyon, in addition to another 50 million announced by President Emmanuel Macron. He also said that France would supply 100 million masks.
“The French contribution is not intended to replace the American contribution. The French contribution reminds the World Health Organization that it can count on the friendship of the European Union, “said Veran.
Spahn said it was unclear how Trump’s announcement of suspended US funding would affect WHO.
WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus thanked Germany and France for their support and said, “We are getting all the support we need, politically and financially.”
Both Spahn and Veran said they were determined to make a COVID-19 vaccine accessible to all people who need it, but did not indicate how that could be done.
Cheng reported from London.
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