US President Donald Trump has said he is going to halt funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) because it has “failed in its basic duty” in its response to the coronavirus outbreak.
The president faulted the WHO for, in his view, failing to adequately investigate early information about the virus’s ability to spread from one human to another and for not calling out China on its alleged lack of transparency over the virus.
Trump, who had telegraphed his intentions last week, claimed the outbreak could have been contained at its source and that lives could have been saved had the U.N. health agency done a better job investigating the early reports coming out of China.
“The WHO failed in its basic duty and must be held accountable,” Trump said at a briefing. He said the U.S. would be reviewing the WHO’s actions to stop the virus before making any decision on resuming aid.
America contributed more than $400m to the WHO last year, making it by far the biggest donor. The organization’s budget for 2018-2019 was around $6bn.
Speaking in the White House rose garden, Trump said: “With the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have deep concerns whether America’s generosity has been put to the best use possible. The reality is that the WHO failed to adequately obtain, vet and share information in a timely and transparent fashion.”
He added: “If we cannot trust them, if this is what we will receive from the WHO, our country will be forced to find other ways to work with other nations to achieve public health goals.”
“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,” Mr Trump told a news conference at the White House on Tuesday.