Trump threatens WHO with permanent funding freeze, gives 30-day time
The World Health Organization (WHO) hasn't served America's interests and it would be unfair to fund the body with taxpayers' money, United States President Donald Trump told the apex health body in a strongly-worded letter. Citing all the ways it failed to control the coronavirus pandemic, Trump gave WHO 30 days to take "substantive" corrective measures. If it doesn't, funds will be stopped.
In a letter to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Trump underlined that the organization's lax approach in the initial days turned out disastrous for the world. The virus, that has killed 320,189 globally (91,981 deaths in the US alone), originated in China in 2019. Trump noted that the outbreak might have started weeks before China actually reported it, indicating that WHO was complicit too.
Trump said the Lancet medical journal published credible reports about the virus' origin, but WHO ignored it. The Beijing wing of WHO knew of "major public health" concern in Wuhan by no later than December 30, 2019, Trump said in the letter. He reminded that Dr. Zhang Jixian of Hubei Provincial Hospital had told authorities about a new coronavirus, which sickened approximately 180 then.
The US President underlined that countries have to report a health emergency within 24 hours, as per the International Health Regulations. "But China did not inform the WHO until December 31, 2019, even though it likely had knowledge of these cases days or weeks earlier," the letter read. Not only was WHO silent on important matters, but it also provided misleading information, Trump added.
Trump asserted on January 14, 2020, WHO said there is no evidence of human transmission. On January 21, at the behest of Chinese President Xi Jinping, WHO didn't declare an emergency. He added that the WHO labeled the outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on January 30, 2020, when it was already late. WHO was also against travel restrictions, he added.
Trump also reminded that WHO's previous heads did a commendable job in handling previous outbreaks. "In 2003, in response to SARS in China, Director-General Harlem Brundtland boldly declared the WHO's first emergency travel advisory in 55 years, recommending against travel to and from the disease's epicenter in southern China," he wrote, adding that she didn't think twice before berating China for endangering lives.
In the last paragraph of the letter, Trump said the only way for WHO to redeem itself is by proving its independence from China. "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," he concluded.
This is the letter sent to Dr. Tedros of the World Health Organization. It is self-explanatory! pic.twitter.com/pF2kzPUpDv— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 19, 2020
Nearly a month ago, Trump temporarily stopped funds to WHO. "The US funds $400-500 million to the WHO each year. China contributes roughly $40 million," the US President had said at the time.