The head of the World Health Organization on Monday said he is confident the U.S. will continue its financial contribution to the United Nations-backed agency that is spearheading the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
The comments by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus come nearly a week after President Trump criticized the agency for waiting too long to call the outbreak a pandemic and said he was considering a freeze or cut in U.S. financial support.
“What I know is that he is supportive, and I hope that the funding to WHO will continue,” Mr. Tedros said during a virtual press conference in response to a question about Mr. Trump’s threat. “The relationship we have is very good, and we hope that this will continue.”
The U.S. government provided nearly 15% of WHO’s $5.6 billion budget for 2018 and 2019 — $237 million through assessments and $656 million in voluntary payments, according to Science magazine.
Mr. Trump last week tweeted that WHO “really blew it” in its response to the ongoing global pandemic.
“For some reason, [WHO is] funded largely by the United States, yet very China-centric. We will be giving that a good look,” Mr. Trump said.
Analysts say it would be difficult for Mr. Trump to unilaterally withdraw congressionally approved funds from WHO, but some discretionary payments could be slashed.
The coronavirus has infected more than 1.8 million people worldwide and killed over 117,000.