United States President Donald Trump on Tuesday announced the suspension of US funding to the World Health Organization because he said it had covered up the seriousness of the COVID-19 outbreak in China before it spread around the world.
Trump told a press conference he was instructing his administration to halt funding while “a review is conducted to assess the World Health Organization’s role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus.”
According to Trump, the WHO prevented transparency over the outbreak and the United States — the UN body’s biggest funder which provided $400 million last year — will now “discuss what to do with all that money that goes to the WHO.”
“With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have deep concerns whether America’s generosity has been put to the best use possible.”
Established in 1948, the WHO is an autonomous organization that works with the United Nations and is considered part of the U.N. system.
During Tuesday’s briefing, the president asked whether it was appropriate to freeze WHO’s funding in the middle of a pandemic that has claimed more than 125,000 lives worldwide with over 2 million cases confirmed, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
“This is an evaluation period, but in the meantime, we’re putting a hold on all funds going to World Health,” Trump said.
Trump said the review would last between 60 and 90 days. He said the administration would “channel” the money into other areas to combat the coronavirus outbreak, but declined to provide any specifics.
The American Medical Association was quick to criticize the president’s move and urged him to reconsider his decision.
“During the worst public health crisis in a century, halting funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) is a dangerous step in the wrong direction that will not make defeating COVID-19 easier,” AMA President Patrice A. Harris said in a statement.
Harris added that battling a pandemic requires international cooperation and data.
“Cutting funding to the WHO – rather than focusing on solutions – is a dangerous move at a precarious moment for the world,” she said.