Germany and France on Thursday announced heightened political and financial backing for the World Health Organization as it continues to combat the coronavirus pandemic, one month after President Trump announced a U.S. withdrawal from the agency.
The U.S. president last month threatened to withdraw from the WHO and permanently cut off all funding to the group after lodging a series of complaints that the agency mishandled the response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement quickly saw pushback from European allies, who urged Mr. Trump to reconsider the withdrawal.
Germany and France have since engaged in stabilization talks with the WHO. German Health Minister Jens Spahn said Berlin would be contributing additional funds and medical equipment that would bring its total contribution to the WHO to 500 million Euros, Reuters reported. The contribution marks the highest the agency has seen.
“We need a strong, efficient, transparent and accountable WHO today more than ever,” Mr. Spahn said during a press conference.
“Germany will do its part to give the WHO the political, financial and technical backing that is needed,” he continued. “This comes with the expectation that remaining challenges are adequately addressed and needed reforms are pushed forward.”
The U.S. contributes up to $400 million per year, the highest of any other country until now. The WHO is financed through both assessed and voluntary contributions, according to the agency’s website.
The U.S. assessed contribution for 2020 is $120 million, representing 22% of WHO’s core budget for the year, according to data from USAID. In 2018, the U.S.’s voluntary budget was nearly double its assessed contribution at $220 million.
France also announced a contribution of 90 million Euros to a WHO research center in Lyon, and an additional 50 million Euro donation.
“I truly believe the world needs, more than ever, a multilateral organization,” said French Health Minister Olivier Veran during the news conference. “I believe the world cannot get rid of partners. We need a global answer [to the pandemic] and only the WHO can provide that answer.”
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who has been criticized by Mr. Trump for his management of the coronavirus pandemic, praised the contributions and said the intra-Euro talks have been “very productive.”
“We are getting today all the support we need, politically and financially,” he said. “Both Germany and France are long-standing friends of WHO and global health.”