The United States on Tuesday halted its share of funding to the World Health Organization as President Donald Trump accused the global body of mismanaging the Covid-19 pandemic. The US, the worst-hit country by far in the pandemic, is also the organisation’s biggest funder, and had contributed $400 million (around Rs 3,040 crore at current exchange rate) last year – nearly 15% of its entire budget.
“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,” Trump said during a media briefing at the White House. “The WHO failed in its basic duty and it must be held accountable.”
American taxpayers provide between $400 million and $500 million to the WHO every year, the US president said, pointing out that China contributes approximately $40 million a year “or even less”. The pandemic had originated in China in late December 2019 before engulfing nearly the entire world by March.
“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,” Trump said, according to BBC.
The president also claimed that this would have saved thousands of lives and the world from the economic impact of Covid-19. He alleged that the WHO took “China’s assurances to face value”, and defended the actions of the Chinese administration.
Just last week, Trump had threatened to cut funding to the world body, following which WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had called for an end to the “politicisation” of Covid-19. Then as well, Trump had accused the WHO of being very pro-China amid the ongoing pandemic.
After Tuesday’s decision to halt funding, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said this was not the time to cut down on the resources for the WHO or any other humanitarian organisation fighting against coronavirus. “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, according to AFP.
The US has at least 6,08,458 Covid-19 patients and 25,992 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker. The disease has infected 19.8 lakh people across the world, and caused over 1.26 lakh deaths.