Coronavirus: Trump's stance on WHO 'unfortunate', says Zweli Mkhize

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  • Health Minster says the US' withdrawal from the World Health Organisation is "unfortunate".
  • The organisation's SA director says South Africa's early lockdown is being watched with interest.
  • Professor Salim Abdool Karim, chairperson of the Ministerial Advisory Committee, says the organisation has been invaluable to South Africa.


US president Donald Trump's announcement of the US' withdrawal from the World Health Organisation (WHO) was "unfortunate", South Africa's Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said on Friday. 

"We hope that whatever the issues are, they may resolved in such a way they can all be focused on one common enemy - and that is Covid-19," Mkhize said at a media briefing attended by a large team of health and research experts.

World Health Organisation SA director Owen Kaluwa said South Africa's response to the coronavirus was "rapid, was decisive, and was very much based and informed by data". He added that South Africa's early lockdown and response was being watched with interest. 

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Professor Salim Abdool Karim, chairperson of the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) said the WHO had been "invaluable" to South Africa in its efforts during the pandemic and that it took the WHO's guidance seriously.

"We are heavily dependent on the work of the WHO and wish them well," he said. 

At a press conference slamming Chinese trade activities on Friday, Trump said China misled the WHO about the coronavirus and caused enormous economic losses and deaths. 

He said China has "total control over the World Health Organisation, despite only paying $40m per year, compared to what the United States has been paying, which is approximately $450m a year.

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"We have detailed the reforms that it must make an engaged with them directly but they have refused to act. 

"Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organisation and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs." 

The comments were captured on a video of a press conference which was posted on Twitter.

 

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