United States President Donald Trump told his administration to temporarily suspend funding for the World Health Organization (WHO) amid the Covid-19 pandemic caused by the new coronavirus.
This is what we do and we don't know what this could mean for WHO and its programs around the world:
Created in 1948, the UN agency has a mandate to improve the level of health worldwide. He is credited with leading a 10-year campaign to eliminate smallpox in the 1970s and has coordinated the fight against epidemics, including Ebola.
WHO is currently leading the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, providing advice to countries on how to contain its spread. He is also coordinating global research on possible drugs and vaccines against Covid-19.
WHO now has more than 7,000 people working in 150 country offices, six regional offices, and Geneva headquarters.
WHO's budget is biennial and covers a two-year period.
The United States is WHO's largest general donor and had contributed more than $ 800 million by the end of 2019 for the 2018-2019 biennial funding period. The Gates Foundation is the second largest donor, followed by Great Britain.
Financing comes in two forms:
1) The so-called "assessed contributions" of Member States, which are intended to maintain the core functions of WHO.
2) Voluntary contributions, directed at specific programs such as the eradication of polio and the fight against AIDS, malaria and other infectious diseases.
At this stage, it is unclear whether the United States intends to stop its voluntary contributions, its assessed contributions, or both.
The WHO budget for 2020-2021, approved by health ministers last May, totals almost $ 4.85 billion in total and represents a 9 percent increase from the previous two-year period.
It is unclear whether the United States has already made all or part of its payments for the 2020-2021 budget, but its stated contributions are normally made at the end of the year.
Nearly $ 1 billion of the 2020-2021 budget goes to WHO operations in Africa, the world's poorest continent with the highest under-five mortality rates from vaccine-preventable diseases.
Poli eradication remains a major WHO program, and the United States is a key contributor to this effort.
The WHO emergency program also seeks to eliminate other outbreaks of deadly infectious diseases, including Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Trump has taken an increasingly critical stance toward the WHO, accusing it of promoting China's "disinformation" about the virus and saying it likely led to a larger outbreak than would have occurred.
China has said that it has been transparent and has shared information with WHO and other countries, including the United States. The WHO says China shared information quickly and is cooperating in research and other areas. "Focus on the epic fight right now and leave the recriminations until later," WHO Special Envoy Covid-19 David Nabarro said in an online conference on Wednesday, without naming the United States or Trump.
The agency has faced controversy before. He was accused of overreacting to the 2009-10 H1N1 flu pandemic, and then faced devastating criticism for failing to react quickly enough to the big Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014 that killed more than 11,000 people.