U.S. President Donald Trump says he has suspended U.S. payments to the World Health Organization (WHO) pending a review of his warnings about coronavirus and China.
Trump said in a White House press conference on Tuesday that the epidemic could have been contained at the source and saved his life if the United Nations health agency had done a better job investigating reports that came out of China.
He said the world depends on the WHO to work with countries to make sure that accurate health threat information is shared in a timely manner.
“The WHO has failed in its fundamental duty and must be held accountable,” Trump said during the briefing. He said the United States is reviewing WHO’s actions to stop the virus before making any decisions on resuming aid.
There was no immediate comment from the Geneva-based organization, but when asked about possible cuts in US funding during a regular United Nations briefing last Tuesday, WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris replied: ” Regardless of any problem, our work will continue. “
Trump said the United States will continue to engage with the WHO in pursuit of “significant reforms”.
“We are doing a very thorough investigation as we speak,” he told reporters, saying it would take 60 to 90 days.
“(WHO) is very focused on China,” he said, adding, “it’s not fair.”
The United States contributed nearly 900 million US dollars to the WHO budget for the 2018-19 period, according to information on the agency’s website. This represents one fifth of its total budget of $ 4.4 billion for those years. The United States granted almost three quarters of the funds in “specific voluntary contributions” and the rest in “valued” funding as part of Washington’s commitment to the United Nations institutions.
A more detailed WHO budget document provided by the United States mission to Geneva showed that in 2019 the United States provided $ 452 million, of which nearly $ 119 million in estimated funding. In its most recent budget proposal in February, the Trump administration asked to cut the United States by evaluating the financial contribution to WHO to $ 54.9 million.
Last week, the WHO chief strangely defended his agency’s pandemic management after Trump threatened to end WHO funding.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, asked Trump last week to end the politicization of the global health crisis. (Denis Balibouse / Reuters)
Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has repeatedly called for unity and to stop the “politicization” of the global health crisis.
Tedros, a former Ethiopian foreign minister, also rejected Trump’s suggestion that WHO was “focused on China”, saying: “We are close to every nation, we are color blind.”
Trump himself showed deference to China in the early stages of the epidemic.
“China has worked very hard to contain Coronavirus,” he tweeted on January 24. “The United States appreciates their efforts and transparency very much. It will be all right. In particular, on behalf of the American people, I want to thank President Xi!”