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Belgium reaffirms WHO support after US freezes funding

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Belgium on Wednesay pledged continued support to the World Health Organisation (WHO) after the US announced it was halting funding in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a joint statement, Foreign and Finance Ministers Philippe Goffin and Alexandre de Croo said that the WHO’s role in fighting the pandemic was crucial and that the UN health agency was doing “a good job.”

Their announcement follows news that the United States, the largest WHO contributor, will freeze funding to the organisation who it accused of “severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus.”

As he made the announcement, US President Donald Trump compared the US’ to China’s contributions to the WHO and said he was instructing a review of the latter’s response to the pandemic.

Goffin and De Croo said that, in the midst of the current pandemic, Belgium advocated support to the organisation as much as possible.

“The moment for a thorough evaluation will come later: in the midst of this pandemic, we consider it more important than ever to provide the best possible support to the organization and to work together shoulder to shoulder to tackle this crisis,” they said.

According to the latest online data, Belgium’s contributions to the WHO rose to €20.544 million in 2019, while the Flemish government provided an additional €2.749 million in voluntary contributions.

Reacting to the announcement by the US, the WHO expressed regret over the decision of the US President, saying that the coronavirus was not the only disease they were fighting to control.

“WHO is reviewing the impact of our work of any withdrawal of US funding and we work with our partners to fill any financial gaps we face and to ensure our work continues uninterrupted,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times