Time for global unity: Guterres after US blasts WHO for Covid-19 response

Guterres said the Covid-19 pandemic is one of the most dangerous challenges this world has faced in a lifetime and is above all a human crisis.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday called for global unity and solidarity to stop the coronavirus pandemic and said it is not the time to look back and assess how organisations and nations have reacted to the coronavirus crisis. This comes a day after US President Donald Trump accused the WHO of being "China-centric" and criticised its handling of the Covid-19 outbreak.

"Once we have finally turned the page on this pandemic, there must be a time to look back fully to understand how such a disease emerged and spread its devastation so quickly across the globe, and how all those involved reacted to the crisis. The lessons learned will be essential to effectively address similar challenges, as they may arise in the future," Guterres said.

"But now is not that time. Now is the time for unity, for the international community to work together in solidarity to stop this virus and its shattering consequences," he said.

According to Guterres, the virus is "unprecedented in our lifetime" and has required an unprecedented response. "Obviously, in such conditions, it is possible that the same facts have had different readings by different entities," he added.

The statement came a day after Trump launched a scathing attack on the World Health Organisation (WHO), saying that the global health agency is "China-centric" and has been "wrong" on a lot of things about the virus.

"It is completely unacceptable that the world's global health organization has become a political puppet of the Chinese government," Trump told reporters at his daily White House news conference on Tuesday. He also declared that the US will put a "very powerful hold on the money it gives to WHO".

"We want to look into WHO because they called it wrong. They missed the call. They could've called it months earlier. They would have known, they should have known. they probably did know. So, we'll be looking into that very carefully, and we're going to put a hold on money spent to the WHO," Trump said.

Guterres said the Covid-19 pandemic is one of the most dangerous challenges this world has faced in a lifetime and is above all a human crisis with severe health and socio-economic consequences.

He lauded the work of the WHO in dealing with the pandemic, saying thousands of WHO staff are on the front lines, supporting member states and their societies, especially the most vulnerable among them, with guidance, training, equipment, and concrete life-saving services as they fight the virus.

The UN chief recalled "the courage and determination" of WHO personnel when he visited Congo last year, where the staff are working in precarious conditions and very dangerous remote locations as they fought the deadly Ebola virus. Guterres described it as a remarkable success for WHO that no new cases of Ebola have been registered in months.

"It is my belief that the World Health Organization must be supported, as it is absolutely critical to the world's efforts to win the war against Covid-19," Guterres said.

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel