COVID-19: Trump ‘cuts off’ relationship with WHO

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President Donald Trump, on Friday, said the United States would be cutting off its relationship with the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Mr Trump had earlier accused the global body of covering up China over the coronavirus pandemic, an accusation WHO has dismissed.

A report published by New York Post on Friday said Mr Trump, at press conference in the White House’s Rose Garden, accused the WHO “of being under the control of the communist nation (China) and it failed to provide transparency over the origins of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“China has total control over the World Health Organisation,” Mr Trump was quoted by the news outfit. He was also quoted as saying “the U.S. contributed $450 million to the WHO each year compared to China’s $40 million”.

“We have detailed reforms that it must make and engaged with them directly, but they have refused to act,” he continued.

“Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will today be terminating our relationship with the World Health Organisation and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs,” Mr Trump added.

The U.S. is the largest funder of the WHO but has had a frosty battle with it since the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus over its perceived poor handling of the global crisis that has claimed thousands of lives across the world.

Over 100,000 Americans have died from the virus.

The WHO’s funding runs in two-year budget cycles. For the 2018 and 2019 funding cycle, the U.S. paid a $237 million required assessment as well as $656 million in voluntary contributions, averaging $446 million a year and representing about 14.67 per cent of its total budget, according to WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic.

‘Open war’

PREMIUM TIMES reported in April how Mr Trump, in April, announced the suspension of funding to the WHO claiming the agency had covered up the seriousness of the COVID-19 outbreak in China, allowing it to spread around the world.

Mr Trump said then he has instructed his administration to halt funding while “a review is conducted to assess the WHO’s role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus.”

Mr Trump had accused the WHO of wasting “tremendous amounts of time” in its coronavirus response.

While Mr Trump blamed the international health agency for the pandemic, reports show that he also ignored warnings from his own intelligence agencies of the virus’s severity.

WHO DG, Tedros Ghebreyesus, said then the decision would impact vulnerable people around the world.

“We regret the decision of the President of the United States to order a hold in funding to the WHO,” he had said. “With the support of the people and government of the U.S., WHO works to improve the health of many of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.”

But an irate Mr Trump had chided China further for “ripping off the United States” and blamed previous presidents for letting it happen.

“China raided our factories, off-shored our jobs, gutted our industries, stole our intellectual property and violated their commitments under the World Trade Organisation,” Mr Trump was quoted as saying.