President Trump announced on April 14 that he is pulling funding for the World Health Organization (WHO). He accused the WHO, a United Nations (UN) agency, of “severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the novel coronavirus.”
Trump is also angry with how he’s perceived the WHO to deal with China during the crisis. Trump said during the briefing, “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.”
The World Health Organization is responsible for organizing and managing global public health, including pandemics. The United States provides between $400 and $500 million annually to the WHO, more than any other country. The announcement comes after President Trump has been criticized for his response to the coronavirus in the United States.
Much of the money for the year has already been allocated through various agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services and the State Department. “This decision is dangerous, illegal and will be swiftly challenged,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement after Trump’s announcement.
Trump alleged the WHO is too close to China and has covered up their mistakes with the virus. The announcement was met with criticism by international leaders, including the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“We regret the decision of the president of the United States to order a halt in funding to the World Health Organization,” Tedros said. “WHO is reviewing the impact on our work of any withdrawal of U.S. funding and will work with our partners to fill any financial gaps we face. No doubt, areas for improvement will be identified and there will be lessons for all of us to learn. But for now, our focus – my focus – is on stopping this virus and saving lives.”
“Now is a time for unity in the global battle to push the COVID-19 pandemic into reverse, not a time to cut the resources of the World Health Organization, which is spearheading and coordinating the global body’s efforts,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement.
Other leaders worry that Trump’s pulled funding will do more to empower China.”Removing our funding and influence at the WHO will leave a vacuum that China will be more than happy to fill,” said Senator Chris Murphy, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said a statement it “supports a reformed but functional World Health Organization, and U.S. leadership and involvement are essential to ensuring its transparency and accountability going forward. However, cutting the WHO’s funding during the COVID-19 pandemic is not in U.S. interests.”
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