Donald Trump suspends all US funding of World Health Organisation

14 April 2020, 23:28

Donald Trump has announced he will stop all US funding of the World Health Organisation
Donald Trump has announced he will stop all US funding of the World Health Organisation. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

President Donald Trump has announced he will stop all US funding of the World Health Organisation in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

The US leader accused the WHO of "severely mismanaging and covering up" the coronavirus pandemic which has seen vast swathes of the planet brought to a standstill.

He said the organisation chose "political correctness" over supporting travel restrictions and "failed" in its "basic duty" and so must be held accountable.

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Mr Trump added the decision was pending a review of its warnings about the coronavirus and its links to China, where the outbreak began.

The USA is now at the epicentre of the pandemic with 592,743 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 25,239 coronavirus-related deaths.

However, he insisted that "thousands and thousands of people would have died" if it was not for his decision to suspend travel from China.

The 73-year-old claimed the outbreak could have been contained at its source, thus saving lives, if the United Nations' health agency had done a better job of investigating reports coming out of the Asian country.

He said all countries depend on the WHO to work with them in ensuring accurate information about health threats is swiftly shared.

But he stressed the US will continue to engage with the group in order to pursue what he considers meaningful reforms.

In a statement, he said: "Today I am instructing my administration to halt funding of the World Health Organisation while a review is conducted to assess WHO's role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus.

"Everbody knows what's going on there.

"American taxpayers provide between $400 million and $500 million per year to the WHO. In contrast, China contributes roughly $40 million a year and even less.

"As the organisation's leading sponsor, the United States has a duty to insist on full accountability."

Mr Trump added: "One of the most dangerous and costly decisions from the WHO was its disastrous decision to oppose travel restrictions from China and other nations. They were very much opposed to what we did. Fortunately, I was not convinced and suspended travel from China, saving untold numbers of lives.

"Thousands and thousands of people would have died," he claimed.

The president said that if other countries had also suspended travel from China then "countless more lives" would have been spared.

"Instead, look at the rest of the world," he continued, "look at parts of Europe, other nations and regions that followed WHO guidelines and kept their borders open to China, accelerated the pandemic all around the world.

"Many countries said, 'We're going to listen to the WHO' and they have problems the likes of which they cannot believe."

However, a tweet from the US leader, written on 24 January, shows him praising China's "efforts and transparency."

The tweet reads: "China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency.

"It will all work out well. In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi!"

Meanwhile, on Monday the president claimed he has "total authority" to lift lockdown measures as he launched a blistering attack on the country's media.

Speaking at the White House on 13 April, Mr Trump said: "The president of the United States calls the shots."