US is terminating relationship with WHO, announces Donald Trump
United States President Donald Trump announced on Friday that the US is ending its relationship with the World Health Organization (WHO), over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has ravaged his country. He had suspended funds to the United Nations' body a month ago, and on May 19, he wrote a letter asking WHO to take "corrective measures" or face repercussions.
Trump has repeatedly accused the WHO of not taking the coronavirus threat seriously, hiding important information, and siding with China on the theories it pushed about the virus. The virus originated in China last year, but WHO didn't reveal till weeks later that it could be transmitted from human to human. He has also slammed WHO for not serving America's interest.
Notably, the Geneva-based body gets the maximum financial support from the US (nearly $450 million) while China gives $40 million. Addressing reporters, Trump said the US will be redirecting its funds "to other worldwide and deserving, urgent global public health needs". Trump also alleged that the Asian country didn't abide by reporting obligations when the virus was first discovered months ago.
The US has lost more lives to the virus than any other country. A staggering 104,542 have died, and 1,793,530 are infected. Trump reminded that the world was reeling under a profound economic crisis too. "Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization," he declared.
He also launched a blistering attack on China, saying that the world needs transparency. Trump said the infected people from Wuhan, the epicenter of the disease, didn't travel to other areas of the nation, Beijing for example, but went to different parts of the world, including Europe. "The world is now suffering as a result of the malfeasance of the Chinese government," he added.
To note, during his tenure, Trump has largely claimed the US got a sour deal from world organizations and was exploited. While he has appreciated the decisions his administration took to tackle the crisis, critics have flagged concerns over testing errors. WHO didn't immediately react on Trump's move with a spokesperson telling CNN, "We have no comment to offer at this point."
This week, a new independently-run foundation was founded by the UN health agency. WHO opines this move will give it more authority to direct philanthropic and public donations towards pressing problems, like the ongoing pandemic. Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus claimed this development was unrelated to Trump's threat and said attaining greater financial flexibility was on his agenda since he took charge in July 2017.
In the US, Trump's announcement was met with alarm by health experts and evoked cheer among his supporters, who are skeptical about world organizations. Dr. Thomas Frieden, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (which has worked with WHO since 1948), said, "We helped create the WHO. Turning our back on the WHO makes us and the world less safe."
Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the decision senseless. "Again and again, he blames others and refuses to take responsibility. Only with a coordinated global response will we defeat this virus," she tweeted. Separately, Senator Elizabeth Warren said the decision "alienates allies, undermines global leadership, and threatens the health of American people". "Trump needs to reverse this reckless decision immediately," her tweet read.