WHO hopes to work with US on Ebola despite Trump criticism
Published: Jun 11, 2020 05:18 PM

A child reacts as a health worker injects her with the Ebola vaccine, in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday. Goma, a city of nearly 2 million people, is on high alert after the first transmission of the virus within it was confirmed last week. Photo: VCG

The World Health Organization (WHO) hopes to work "side by side" with the US to contain an outbreak of Ebola in Congo, its chief said on Wednesday, despite their differences over the novel coronavirus.

US President Donald Trump said in May he was ending the US relationship with the WHO over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

But WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he had met US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar last week. 

The meeting appeared to be the first sign of high-level cooperation between Tedros and the Trump administration since the president said he was cutting ties.

"We had a very good discussion with the secretary as of last week and he assured me of US continued commitment to support in the fight especially against Ebola," Tedros said in a statement.

The WHO said on Monday that 12 people had been infected with Ebola in the outbreak of the deadly disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Tedros said the meeting with Azar did not mean the WHO was receiving money directly from Washington, until now its top donor.

"It's not about the money. The relationship [with the US] is more important," he said.

It is not clear when Trump's decision on cutting ties with the WHO will come into effect and the WHO has not confirmed receiving official notification of withdrawal.

Trump has accused the WHO of issuing bad advice on the coronavirus and pandering to China. The WHO has defended its handling of the crisis.

Mike Ryan, head of the WHO's emergencies program, said on Wednesday that there were equipment shortages for fighting the coronavirus in some regions including Central and South America.