The head of emergencies at the World Health Organization, Michael Ryan, warned Wednesday that any end to sizable U.S. funding for the U.N. health agency will have a “major implication for delivering essential health services to the most vulnerable people in the world.”
“Replacing those lifesaving funds for front-line health services to some of the most difficult places in the world: we’ll obviously have to work with other partners to ensure that those funds can still flow,” Ryan said. “We trust that other donors will, if necessary, step in to fill that gap.”
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “We have of course received the letter [from President Donald Trump] and we are looking into it.”
Trump has criticized the WHO for its early response to the outbreak and what he considers its excessive praise of China, where the outbreak began, at a time when his administration’s response in the U.S. has come under scrutiny.
Trump has already ordered a pause in U.S. funding, which totaled nearly $900 million to the WHO’s budget for 2018-19, according to information on the agency’s website. That represented one-fifth of its total $4.4 billion budget for those years.