United States President Donald Trump has said that he’s instructed his administration to halt funding to the World Health Organisation (WHO) because they have mismanaged efforts to contain the coronavirus.
Having previously accused the WHO of being biased towards China, Trump berated the UN body of mismanaging the outbreak and covering up its spread after it emerged in China.
“I am directing my administration to halt funding while a review is conducted to assess the World Health Organization’s role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus,” President Trump told a news conference at the White House, according to BBC. “The WHO failed in its basic duty and it must be held accountable.”
“Had the WHO done its job to get medical experts into China to objectively assess the situation on the ground and to call out China’s lack of transparency, the outbreak could have been contained at its source with very little death,” he told reporters.
“This would have saved thousands of lives and avoided worldwide economic damage. Instead, the WHO willingly took China’s assurances to face value… and defended the actions of the Chinese government.”
Back in January, Trump had a different tone with regards to both China and the coronavirus.
The United States is the biggest contributor towards the WHO, contributing a reported $400m last year, which makes up about 15% of its entire budget.
In response to President Trump’s latest remarks, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that now is not the right time to be cutting funding.
“It is my belief that the World Health Organization must be supported, as it is absolutely critical to the world’s efforts to win the war against COVID-19,” he said in a statement on the UN website. “It is possible that the same facts have had different readings by different entities. Once we have finally turned the page on this epidemic, there must be a time to look back fully to understand how such a disease emerged and spread its devastation so quickly across the globe, and how all those involved reacted to the crisis.”
The lessons learned will be essential to effectively address similar challenges, as they may arise in the future,” he added. “But now is not that time.”
China’s contribution in 2018-19 was almost $76m in assessed contributions and about $10m in voluntary funding, according to the WHO website.
In his press conference in the Rose Garden, Trump said that reopening the country after the lockdown is “close to being finalised”. The US has 609,422 confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the time of writing and 26,056 deaths.