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WHO chief hopes to keep 'generous' U.S. aid after Trump pullout

By
Jean Lotus
A woman and child are pictured wearing protective face masks in New York City on Friday, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
A woman and child are pictured wearing protective face masks in New York City on Friday, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

June 1 (UPI) -- The head of the World Health Organization on Monday praised U.S. contributions to global health and said he hopes there will be more after President Donald Trump's pledge to pull support.

Trump said Friday the United States will terminate its relationship with the United Nations-run health body. The decision, announced weeks ago, has been met with widespread concern -- particularly due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic -- as the United States has been the WHO's largest donor.

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"We have received questions about Friday's announcement by the President of the United States of America," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters Monday.

"The world has long benefited from the strong, collaborative engagement with the government and the people of the United States.

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"The U.S. government and people's contribution and generosity towards global health over many decades has been immense, and it has made a great difference in public health all around the world."

Tedros said the agency will work with professional sporting organizations and religious groups to update recommendations for the safety of mass gatherings.

"WHO has updated its risks assessment tool so that organizations can score each risk factor and control measure, which results in an overall risk score," he said. "While we all want sporting events to restart, we want to make sure that it is done as safely as possible."

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Tedros also warned that medical resources for non-infectious diseases are being limited by emergency responses to COVID-19 in 155 countries surveyed.

"More than half of the countries surveyed have partially or completely disrupted services for treatment of hypertension," he said. "Half for treatment of diabetes and related complications; and 42 percent for cancer treatment, and 31 percent for cardiovascular emergencies."

Tedros did not elaborate how funding would be affected by a U.S. pullout and it's also unclear how Trump might cancel the funding, as it's appropriated by the U.S. Congress.

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Trump has been critical of the international health organization, saying it has covered up the pandemic and is too heavily influenced by China.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the WHO's second-largest donor, has donated about $600 million for a two-year budget cycle. Britain is the third-largest.

More than 6.2 million COVID-19 cases and 373,000 deaths have been reported worldwide so far, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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World moves to reopen amid COVID-19 pandemic

Visitors wear face masks as they tour the Whitney Museum of American Art as it reopens on September 3. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

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