Connect with us

Current Affairs

‘Dangerous As It Sounds’: Bill Gates, World Leaders And U.N. Condemn Trump’s Decision To Halt WHO Funding

Published

on

President Donald Trump’s announcement that the U.S.—the largest sponsor of the World Health Organization—will halt payments to the body in the midst of a pandemic because of its “mismanagement” of the coronavirus crisis has been slammed by the U.N., global leaders and Bill Gates as “dangerous”.

KEY FACTS

  • Trump announced he would hold payments in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, while a “review” is carried out to assess what he said was the WHO “severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus.”
  • In response, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement that now is “not the time to reduce the resources for the operations of the World Health Organization or any other humanitarian organization in the fight against the virus.”
  • Microsoft founder Bill Gates, whose philanthropic Gates Foundation is one of the WHO’s biggest voluntary donors, criticised the move as being “as dangerous as its sounds…the world needs WHO now more than ever.”
  • House speaker Nancy Pelosi blamed Trump “ignoring warnings” about the pandemic for causing “unnecessary deaths.”
  • She tweeted: “Now more than ever, we need the truth. And the truth is that Donald Trump dismantled the infrastructure handed to him which was meant to plan for and overcome a pandemic, resulting in unnecessary deaths and economic disaster.”
  • World leaders have urged Trump to rethink the decision, with China calling for the U.S. to fulfill its obligations, Germany and New Zealand calling for unity, while Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the WHO was not immune from criticism.

Additional info: Trump’s decision comes as nearly 2 million people to date have contracted the coronavirus, 600,000 of them in the U.S., while 126,000 people have died.

Crucial comment: Guterres added: “Now is the time for unity and for the international community to work together in solidarity to stop this virus and its shattering consequences.” 

The Geneva-headquartered body is the part of the U.N. in charge of global public health and has coordinated the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Big number: $400 million. That’s how much the U.S. contributed to the WHO budget in 2018-2019, the BBC reports. The U.S. makes up about 15% of payments to the WHO and is the largest financial contributor. The WHO is funded through membership payments from its 194 member states, as well as voluntary contributions.

Key background: Trump has threatened to pull out from funding the WHO in recent weeks, despite the U.S. becoming the centre of the global pandemic with the most cases and deaths. Trump accuses the body of being China-centric, declaring a pandemic late, and “opposing travel restrictions to China,” he said on Tuesday. But the WHO has also suggested that the U.S. largely failed to acknowledge the severity of the disease and its potential. The tension between the U.S. and the WHO is just one example of the struggle to implement a global response to the pandemic as individual states grapple with it in their own, unique and sometimes contradictory ways.

Tangent: Donald Trump is not the first U.S. President to defund a U.N. body but this tactic of withholding funds, or withdrawal, has become a hallmark of his administration. The U.S. will cease to be a member of the Paris Climate Agreement this year after Trump formally pulled the U.S. out in 2019, and he has also pulled out of the Iran Nuclear Deal and the UN Human Rights Council, among other agreements.

Isabel Togoh, Forbes Staff, Business

Current Affairs

OPEC And Its Allies Are Ready To Boost Production, But Here’s Why An Oil Market Recovery Isn’t Guaranteed

Published

on

By

After record production cuts in April intended to prop up the market amid a demand crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the world’s largest oil producers are expected to ease up on the restrictions and begin to increase their output next month.

KEY FACTS

  • Saudi Arabia, Russia, and the other members of OPEC+ will meet Wednesday to discuss the current market situation and debate future production limits, the Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend, adding that most delegates in the organization support loosening restrictions.
  • As lockdown measures ease across the globe, demand for oil is slowly beginning to rise again as shipping and air travel resume. 
  • Oil prices are still down significantly from pre-pandemic levels, however, with the Brent international benchmark priced at about 30% of January levels. 
  • The International Energy Agency said Friday that while global demand for oil had recovered strongly in China and India in May, world demand is still projected to decline during the second half of the year before recovering in 2021. 
  • The recent spike coronavirus cases and new lockdowns are creating “more uncertainty”: additional lockdowns could discourage travel and international trade, which would put more downward pressure on prices.
  • The risk to the oil market is “almost certainly to the downside,” the IAE said. 

KEY BACKGROUND

In April, the members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies agreed to record oil production cuts of 9.7 million barrels a day as the coronavirus decimated global demand for crude oil. The agreement put an end to a weeks-long price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia that added even more pressure to an already-struggling market. 

CRUCIAL QUOTE

“If OPEC clings to restraining production to keep up prices, I think it’s suicidal,” a person familiar with Saudi Arabia’s thinking told the Journal. “There’s going to be a scramble for market share, and the trick is how the low cost producers assert themselves without crashing the oil price.”

Sarah Hansen, Forbes Staff, Markets

Continue Reading

Current Affairs

Zindzi Mandela passes away, aged 59

Published

on

Picture taken for the December 2014 cover of FORBES WOMAN AFRICA by Jay Caboz

Zindziswa ‘Zindzi’ Mandela has died. The 59-year-old is believed to have breathed her last in a Johannesburg hospital in the early hours of July 13, Monday, SABC is reporting.

Zindzi was the daughter of struggle icons, South Africa’s former president Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, and currently serving as South Africa’s ambassador to Denmark.

In December 2014, Zindzi graced the cover of FORBES WOMAN AFRICA alongside her mother, a year after her father’s death.

She lost her 13-year-old granddaughter, Zenani, in a car crash after a pre-tournament concert during the 2010 FIFA World Cup that took place in South Africa.

In 2018, her mother Winnie, passed away.

Zindzi is survived by her four children, husband and grandchildren.

.

Continue Reading

Heroes & Survivors

The Test, Trial And Triumph

Published

on

Motlabana Monnakgotla on an assignment for FORBES AFRICA

After 14 days in isolation as a Covid-19 patient, this FORBES AFRICA photojournalist recovered to see the world with new eyes and realize he had the gift of life.

It was around 3PM on June 24 when a nurse called to tell me that I could now officially end my 14-day self-isolation period at home. I had tested Covid-19 positive three weeks before and now was in total disbelief that I had survived this particular physical trial and mental ordeal.

Before testing positive, I was like any other ordinary South African, pursuing my work from home, and as a FORBES AFRICA photojournalist, recording the impact of the coronavirus.

I had thought my face-mask and hand-sanitizer were my armour against the virus, but I guess one can never be too careful.

The first 72 hours of knowing that I had confirmed positive for Covid-19 came with its own set of emotions and experiences. Some friends, and even family, criticized and judged me for carrying the virus, but I also came to know about the ones who cared.

A group of doctors visited me at home to check if I needed hospitalization. They were young and not cloaked head-to-toe in PPE as I had thought. One of them was wearing a camouflage top and sported a few tattoos on his left arm. After his consultation with me, he spoke excitedly about the baby he and his wife were expecting, due later in the year.

There was hope in the world.

I was confident my health was getting better until a nurse called me a few days later. She was the pin that burst my bubble, as she stated things I didn’t want to hear at the time. They were facts, she clinically warned, as she sees people dying daily of the virus.

My mind raced to the previous two nights, when I experienced mild short breaths and thought how the attack could have been worse. I could have died at night all by myself, just trying to breathe. I shed tears as she spoke.

Soon after that, an old friend of mine, who had been shot (and injured) in the spine during an armed robbery attack, called. His timing was perfect. He encouraged me to live on and smile, and told me that the nurse was only doing her job, in advising me to keep to a healthy diet during this time. He brought a smile to my face.

A week later, it was my mother’s birthday. Every year, I visit her with a gift and a cake. This time, all I could do was video-call her; she was both happy and sad not to be able to see me. Two days later, it was my own birthday. I felt low and lonely, but was glad to be alive as my two weeks in self-quarantine was going to be over soon.

“I asked if I would be added on as a statistic to the official recovery numbers, and she laughed.”

I was reluctant to leave the house, but on June 24, the call by a lady who identified herself as “Nurse Nomsa from the Department of Health” liberated me. She was following up on my health status for the previous two weeks and I had ticked all the right boxes. I asked if I would be added on as a statistic to the official recovery numbers, and she laughed. She told me I had recovered, but should continue maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Today, I can stand outside my home in Soweto and watch the neighbors’ kids play, shout and scream, asking from their yards, “Malume (uncle), are you okay?”

With a gentle laugh and nod, I acknowledge my story of survival to them.

Continue Reading

Trending