TRUMP THREATENS WHO WITHDRAWAL

Donald Trump. Photo: Reuters

United States president Donald Trump threatened on Monday to permanently halt funding for the World Health Organisation if it did not commit to improvements within 30 days, and to reconsider his country’s membership of the agency.

Trump suspended US contributions to the WHO last month, accusing it of promoting Chinese “disinformation” about the novel coronavirus outbreak, although WHO officials denied the accusation and China said it was transparent and open.

“If the WHO does not commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days, I will make my temporary freeze of United States funding to the WHO permanent and reconsider our membership,” Trump told its chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in a letter posted on Twitter.

Earlier, Trump said the Geneva-based WHO had “done a very sad job” in its handling of the coronavirus, which emerged in China late last year.

Trump said in the letter the only way forward for the WHO was for it to demonstrate independence from China, adding that his administration had started discussing reform with Tedros.

A WHO spokeswoman in Geneva said yesterday the agency had no immediate comment on Trump’s letter but expected to have “more clarity” and a reaction to it later.

INDONESIA EXPECTING PANDEMIC BABY BOOM

JAKARTA – Indonesia is facing a baby boom that could see more than 400 000 unplanned pregnancies as coronavirus lockdowns cut access to birth control, the country’s family planning agency said yesterday.

Small health clinics have been temporarily shuttered while doctors and midwives are limiting patient numbers since the south-east Asian nation implemented a partial lockdown last month to prevent the spread of Covid-19. That has made it more difficult for Indonesians to access birth control, the agency said.

By early next year, Indonesia – the world’s fourth most populous country – could see 420 000 more babies born than would otherwise be expected, the agency estimated. The figure is based on 10% of the 28 million members of its nationwide family planning facilities having trouble getting contraceptives.

About 4,8 million babies are born annually in Indonesia, a country of more than 260 million people.

The expected jump could aggravate the prevalence of childhood stunting as well as maternal and infant deaths, the government said.

“If you’re planning to get pregnant, now is not the right time and please do not stop your contraception,” said Hasto Wardoyo, head of Indonesia’s national population and family planning board.

The agency said it is sending staff door to door to get intra-uterine devices (IUD) and other birth control into the hands of those who want it.

Some 95% of contraceptive users in Indonesia are women while only a small number of men use condoms, it said.

– Nampa-Reuters-AFP

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