The UN agency is coordinating the global response to the coronavirus pandemic. Image: Reuters
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- The World Health Organization's biggest donor, the US, has halted funding.
- UN chief said now is "not the time" to cut funds.
US president Donald Trump said on Tuesday he would halt funding to the World Health Organization over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, while his administration reviews the WHO's response to the global crisis.
UN Secretary General António Guterres said now is "not the time" to cut funds to the WHO.
"The international community [should] work together in solidarity to stop this virus," he said.
"It is my belief that the World Health Organization must be supported, as it is absolutely critical to the world's efforts to win the war against COVID-19."
The US is the biggest single donor to the Geneva-based WHO. It contributed more than $400 million in 2019, roughly 15% of the WHO's annual budget.
The second-largest funder is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which provides 9.8% of the WHO's funds.
Other countries are stepping up their own financial support for the organization. The UK, for example, has announced £200 million in new funding for international efforts to contain and combat the pandemic, including £65 million for the WHO.
The WHO’s total budget for 2018–2019 was approved at $4.4 billion. There was no approved budget for humanitarian response plans and other appeals, as they are driven by events.
In 2018, the WHO's spending totalled $2.3 billion, down 4% from 2017. The organization said its base programmes represented 60% of spending in 2018, while polio, emergencies and special programmes represented the remaining 40%.
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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.
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