If the World Health Organization (WHO) did not commit to improvements within 30 days, all funding of the world body by the United States will be halted permanently, warned US President Donald Trump on Monday.
Trump also threatened that he would reconsider US membership in this global body.
Accusing the WHO of promoting China’s “disinformation” about the coronavirus outbreak, Trump had suspended US contributions to the organization last month.
Such allegations by Trump have been denied by the WHO while China has said that it was transparent and open.
“If the WHO does not commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days, I will make my temporary freeze of United States funding to the WHO permanent and reconsider our membership,” Trump told its chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in a letter posted on Twitter.
The WHO had “done a very sad job” in the manner in which it had handled the novel coronavirus pandemic, Trump had said earlier, and had added that a decision on continuation of funding to the WHO will be taken by him soon.
The only was that the WHO could move forward was to clearly show that it was not influenced by China, Trump said in his letter. He also added that reform discussions with Tedros had already been initiated by the US administration.
The WHO would initiate an independent review of the global virus response as soon as possible, the body said on Monday, and added that backing and a pledge of a huge amount of funds from China had been received by it. China has been accused of a cover up of the coronavirus pandemic at the initial stages that had allowed the virus to spread to the rest of the world.
WHO, based in Geneva and a specialized agency of the United Nations, is leading a global initiative to develop safe and effective vaccines, tests and drugs to prevent, diagnose and treat Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Till now more than 4.75 million people have been reported to have been infected globally and the virus has killed 314,414 of them.
In 2019, about 15 per cent of the total budget of the WHO, which amounts to more than $400 million, had been contributed by the US.
And senior Trump administration officials said last month that about $58 million has already been paid to the WHO this year alone which was 50 per cent of what the country has to pay to the world body for the entire year – which is known as an assessed contribution.
For specific WHO programs like polio eradication, vaccine-preventable disease, HIV and hepatitis, tuberculosis, and maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health, the United States traditionally regularly pays several hundred million dollars annually in voluntary funding.
It was not clear how much voluntary funding the United States had already provided for WHO programs in 2020.
(Adapted from Reuters.com)