Germany increases donation to WHO but demands reforms

Health workers collect nasal swab samples from a woman during a mass test for the new coronavirus at a market in Jakarta, Indonesia, Thursday, June 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)
Health workers collect nasal swab samples from a woman during a mass test for the new coronavirus at a market in Jakarta, Indonesia, Thursday, June 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

GENEVA – Germany on Thursday announced that it is giving half a billion euros to support the World Health Organization amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but said reforms are necessary to make the agency more transparent and accountable.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn, said the country remains a “critical friend” of the World Health Organization.

Speaking at a meeting of some member states at WHO headquarters in Geneva on Thursday, Spahn said Germany would do its part to give WHO the political, financial and technical backing it required.

He said most of the more than 500 million euros was for the agency's plan to stop the coronavirus pandemic. Part of the money — 110 million euros — had been announced previously.

“This comes with the clear expectation that remaining challenges are adequately addressed and needed reforms are pushed forward,” Spahn said.

Last month, WHO bowed to member countries' request for an independent probe of how it managed the global response to coronavirus.

“We need a strong, efficient, transparent and accountable WHO today more than ever,” Spahn said. He added it is critical to have “decision-making processes driven by the facts, and not by politics.”

In recent weeks, WHO has come under siege from U.S. President Donald Trump and others, who have blasted its performance during COVID-19 and accused the agency of colluding with China to hide the extent of the outbreak when the virus first emerged. Trump had previously declared he was suspending U.S. funding to WHO and pulling his country out; it provides about $450 million a year as the agency's single biggest donor.