WASHINGTON, April 15 – US President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that his administration is halting the nation’s funding to the World Health Organisation (WHO), a move experts have warned against, as COVID-19 continues to take a toll globally.
Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump also said a review is being conducted to assess the WHO’s role in addressing the spread of the coronavirus, reported Xinhua news agency.
The announcement came as Trump is aggressively defending his own handling of the outbreak in the United States after the administration has been scrutinised for downplaying the threat from the coronavirus early on and faulted for delays in testing.
The tone also differed from one of his tweets on Feb. 24, several days before the United States reported the first death from COVID-19.
“The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA,” Trump wrote at that time. “We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart.”
Lawrence Gostin, director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University, called cutting funding to the WHO during a global health crisis “disgraceful,” warning that it would cause death and even blowback on the United States.
“How shortsighted when global coop needed more now than ever,” Gostin said in a series of tweets on Tuesday.
In remarks delivered from Geneva last week, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “We must quarantine politicising this virus at national and global levels.”
“We have to work together, and we have no time to waste,” he added.
UN Chief says now not the time to suspend WHO funding
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said, after US President Donald Trump’s statement on the suspension of funding for the World Health Organisation (WHO), that it was not the right time now to do so, reported Sputnik news agency.
“It is also not the time to reduce the resources for the operations of the World Health Organisation or any other humanitarian organisation in the fight against the virus,” Guterres said.
“As I have said before, now is the time for unity and for the international community to work together in solidarity to stop this virus and its shattering consequences,” he said.
Last week, Guterres said the COVID-19 pandemic was one of the most dangerous challenges the world faced in our lifetime, adding that it was above all a human crisis with severe health and economic consequences. He said that later, when the pandemic was over, there must be a time to look back to understand how such a disease had emerged and spread its devastation so fast, but that now it was not that time.
The WHO on March 11 declared the outbreak of the new coronavirus a pandemic. According to the latest WHO data, more than 1,844,000 cases of COVID-19 have been registered in the world, and over 117,000 people have died from the disease.
According to Johns Hopkins University, the number of confirmed cases worldwide amounts to 1,980,003, with 126,557 deaths and 485,917 recoveries.
Johns Hopkins University also said, the United States has reported more than 600,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 25,575 deaths, both the highest on record.