Leaders from the African continent have rallied behind the World Health Organization chief, who hails from Ethiopia.
The spirit of unison was prompted by the recent comments from the United States President Donald Trump who expressed his displeasure on what he termed as a ‘China-centric’ WHO leadership. He went further to say that the United States was considering withdrawing from the global health agency or withholding future funding. The allegations are denied by Mr. Tedros - a former foreign minister of Ethiopia.
In support of the Director-General, several African leaders voiced their unwavering support. First was a tweet from the African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat expressing his support for Mr. Tedros on April 8. The AU chairperson expressed his concerns over a concerted effort to execute leadership changes on the World Health Organization. This prompted other leaders to offer their support too.
South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa registered his support for Mr. Tedros through a letter from the president’s office praising the “exceptional leadership” displayed by the agency since the crisis began. The statement was issued in his capacity as head of the 55-member country, African Union where he expressed “unwavering support.”
The support was also shared by Rwanda President Paul Kagame who added a tweet urging everyone to focus on the fight against the pandemic while arguing that the “time for accountability will come.”
Namibian President Hage G. Geingob also took to Twitter and described the WHO chief Tedros as a “flagbearer for multilateralism.” He urged everyone to focus on what matters which is “saving lives.”
Ethiopian president, Sahle-Work Zewde called on everyone to give the WHO the space to carry out its mandate. She gave a thumbs-up to the global health body’s “effective leadership” and maintained that “now is not the time for blame game”
United States funding to the WHO
The United States was the largest voluntary contributor to the agency, funding about 15 percent of the 2019 budget. According to the latest 2018-2019 budget, the United States contributed close to $900 million, roughly one-fifth of the total $4.4 billion budget. The amount was issued in the form of “specified voluntary contributions” while the remainder was issued as “assessed funding.”