Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), says withdrawal of funding to the World Health Organisation (WHO) will be a huge price for humanity to pay.
Ihekweazu made the assertion on Thursday while answering questions on the WHO COVID-19 Africa Media briefing held in Geneva, Switzerland.
He spoke against the backdrop of America President, Donald Trump’s stand to withdraw his country’s financial support to the world health body.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the WHO COVID-19 Africa Media was aimed at taking a look at how Africa is handling the COVID-19 pandemic with focus on the situation in Nigeria.
The media briefing was organised with the support of the World Economic Forum as part of the COVID-19 Action Platform and how to minimise its impact in Africa.Trump had on April 14 presented the freezing of U. S funding to WHO.This was Trump’s direct response to what he claims was “WHO’s slow reaction in raising the alarm over the global threat from the Coronavirus and being too “China-centric” in its response”.On the orders of Trump, the U.S, one of the key founding members of — and the largest donor to — WHO, announced its intention to freeze its funding for the agency, pending a review of WHO’s actions during the Coronavirus pandemic. The review could last for up to three months.
Trump’s administration has been increasingly critical of the agency, which for months has guided the world in how to tackle the deadly Coronavirus.
Ihekweazu said that the operations of WHO was so critical to the survival of the continent and beyond, hence, there must be adequate support to the organisation.
“If funding to WHO is affected in a way, it means that there will be a huge price for humanity to pay and all of us in this side of the world.
“I really hope that everyone around the world will come together to support the organisation, not just by speaking, but by funding the organisation.
“The funding of WHO is so important to all, and it is hard to explain to someone outside the continent how it is.
“We really rely on them for guidance because of the work they do, and we don’t have the luxury to build up the infrastructure and knowledge on our own and expertise they offer.
“WHO is critical to our collective survival in Africa and the world. A price will be paid, and I hope we don’t get to that stage,” he said.
The NCDC director-general said that Nigeria has a lot to learn after the COVID-19 experience, which he said would help the country to scale-up its healthcare infrastructure and services.
“We dont have the luxury at not paying attention to the work we are doing now. Everything we are doing now should help us solve the short time problem and long term.
“Secondly, it should help us build a better tomorrow, so we are really focussed on making choices on investment, some of them may be soft, but we are building enduring capacities for tomorrow.
“It is a responsibility to build up during this crisis an enduring infrastructure that will last,” he said.