The decision by US President Donald Trump to freeze funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) amid the coronavirus pandemic is “deeply regrettable,” Moussa Faki Mahamat, the chairman of the African Union Commission, said Wednesday.
“Today more than ever, the world depends on WHO’s leadership to steer the global #Covid_19 pandemic response. Our collective responsibility to ensure WHO can fully carry out its mandate, has never been more urgent,” Faki said in a Twitter post.
Trump on Tuesday announced that he would halt payments to the UN body that amounted to $400 million (366 million euros) last year.
He said the payments would be frozen pending a review of the WHO’s role in “severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus” and accused the Geneva-based body of putting “political correctness above life-saving measures.”
Trump charged that the outbreak could have been contained “with very little death” if the WHO had accurately assessed the situation in China, where the disease broke out late last year.
Africa has so far not been hit by the coronavirus as hard as other regions, but experts worry that weak health systems could quickly become overwhelmed by an influx of cases.
As of mid-Wednesday, there were 16,215 COVID-19 cases across all of Africa, resulting in 869 deaths, according to a toll compiled by AFP.