U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to permanently end funding to the World Health Organization and pull out of the international body altogether in a letter blasting its coronavirus response and accusing its head of “political gamesmanship.”
The letter, which Trump publicly revealed in a tweet Monday evening, listed a number of criticisms of the WHOs initial response to the novel coronavirus in the early days of the outbreak in China.
He claimed the WHO “ignored credible reports of the virus” and accused the organization of acting too slowly and bowing to pressure from the Chinese government. Trump said that had Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus followed the example of the WHO during the SARS outbreak in 2003, during which it strongly criticized Chinese attempts to cover up the spread of the virus, “many lives could have been saved.”
The letter, addressed to Tedros, continued that 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 World Health Organization permanent and reconsider our membership in the organization.”
“I cannot allow American taxpayer dollars to continue to finance an organization that, in its present state, is so clearly not serving Americas interests,” Trumps letter read.
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
Trump suspended U.S. funding to the World Health Organization last month, offering similar complaints to the ones in Mondays letter. The move was widely panned as a deflection technique from Trumps own slow response to the virus. Prior to the suspension, the United States was the largest donor to the WHO.
The WHO did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Trump administration had also made its displeasure with the WHO known during the organizations annual meeting Monday. U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the WHO had “failed at its core mission” — and that “in an apparent attempt to conceal this outbreak, at least one member country” ignored its transparency obligations, an apparent reference to China.
Beijing, meanwhile, hewed closer to the WHO and Europe as Chinese President Xi Jinping endorsed the principle of making any vaccine produced in his country globally accessible.
That announcement leaves the U.S. in an increasingly isolated position at the WHO.
In a video message to the World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the WHO, Azar echoed Trumps critique, citing “a failure by this organization to obtain the information that the world needed” as one of the “primary reasons this outbreak spun out of control.”
Xi expressed openness to a WHO-led inquiry into the pandemic on Monday, backing “the idea of a comprehensive review of the global response to COVID-19 after it is brought under control.”
A coronavirus response resolution on track to be adopted on Tuesday by WHO member countries calls for the WHO chief to launch a review of the response, including the global bodys actions, “at the earliest appropriate moment.”
WHO Director General Tedros endorsed the idea Monday and pledged to initiate it.
Azar also embraced an inquiry, but with a barb, calling the status quo “intolerable” and saying the Geneva-based institution needs to be “far more transparent and far more accountable.”
“Although we are all focused on the immediate response, we need a more effective WHO right now,” he adRead More – Source