Announcing the creation of the WHO Foundation at a virtual briefing, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus denied the move was related to "recent funding issues," saying it had been in the works for years.
President Donald Trump has threatened to halt funding from the United States, the WHO's biggest donor, after criticizing its handling of the pandemic and accusing it of being China-centric. In a letter to Tedros last week, Trump called on the U.N. agency to initiate reforms within 30 days.
Tedros told a news conference the body had warned "many times" about a pandemic in recent years. Countries had identified gaps in their preparedness for fighting pandemics, but financing had not materialized, he said.
The WHO Foundation is being created as an independent grant-making entity that will support the U.N. agency's efforts to address the most pressing global health challenges by raising new funding from "non-traditional sources."