Trump threatens to permanently stop funding to WHO
In a letter sent to World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday, President Trump threatened to permanently cut U.S. funding to the WHO as well as reconsider membership in the organization. The president accused the WHO of repeated missteps during the coronavirus pandemic and demanded it demonstrate its independence from China.
“My administration has already started discussions with you on how to reform the organization. But action is needed quickly. We do not have time to waste,” said Trump in the letter. “That is why it is my duty, as President of the United States, to inform you that, if the World Health Organization does not commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days, I will make my temporary freeze of United States funding to the World Health Organization permanent and reconsider our membership in the organization.”
The letter outlines Trump’s allegations that the WHO missed warning signs of the coronaviruses spread and also highlighted the WHO praise of China’s government for its transparency with respect to the coronavirus, setting a new standard for outbreak control.
“Even after you belatedly declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on January 30, 2020, you failed to press China for the timely admittance of a World Health Organization team of international medical experts,” said Trump.
Trump pointed out that even after the WHO team arrived in China, they were not immediately allowed to visit Wuhan and said they remained silent when the two American members of the team were denied access to Wuhan entirely.
The WHO issued a statement saying it was considering the contents of Trump’s letter.
“I will initiate an independent evaluation at the earliest appropriate moment to review experience gained and lessons learned, and to make recommendations to improve national and global pandemic preparedness and response,” Ghebreyesus said. “To be truly comprehensive, such an evaluation must encompass the entirety of the response by all actors, in good faith.”
The U.S. accounted for roughly 20 percent of the WHO’s total budget in the past two years, significantly more than that of other countries. It paid $400 million to the WHO for 2018-2019, according to the organization’s website. President Trump has made it a point of his administration to put an end to unfair and oversized U.S. contributions to international organizations.
“I cannot allow American taxpayer dollars to continue to finance an organization that, in its present state, is so clearly not serving America’s interests,” said Trump.
Trump’s letter comes as the WHO is holding its annual general assembly remotely. The assembly has been full of calls for a review of the organization’s response to the pandemic by many of the 194-member nations.
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