World leaders have condemned U.S President Donald Trump’s decision to halt America’s financial support towards the World Health Organization (WHO), saying it this will negatively affect the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
On Tuesday, during a press briefing at the White House, President Trump said his administration will halt funding to WHO. He said this will stand pending a 60 to 90 day review of the global body for what he described as its mismanagement of the coronavirus outbreak.
The number of Coronavirus infections is 1.9 million globally, with over 127,000 people dead so far. In the U.S. alone, over 614,000 have been infected and over 26,000 killed.
He said his officials would conduct a review “to assess the World Health Organization’s role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus”.
“The WHO’s attack on travel restrictions put political correctness above life-saving measures,” Trump said.
He criticized WHO for opposing large-scale travel restrictions and accused it of failing to quickly vet and share accurate information on COVID-19.
“The reality is that the WHO failed to adequately obtain, vet and share information in a timely and transparent fashion.”
“We will be able to take that money and channel it to the areas most needed. We have not been treated properly.”
Trump also criticized the WHO for praising China’s supposed transparency with respect to the coronavirus, despite the president himself doing the same in late January.
In response, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement that now is “not the time to reduce the resources for the operations of the World Health Organization or any other humanitarian organization in the fight against the virus.”
“It is my belief that the World Health Organization must be supported, as it is absolutely critical to the world’s efforts to win the war against COVID-19,” Gueteress said.
He said now is the time for unity and for the international community to work together in solidarity to stop this virus and its shattering consequences.
Heiko Maas, the German foreign minister, criticized the decision with a pointed message to Mr. Trump.
“It doesn’t help to blame. The virus knows no borders,” he wrote on Twitter.
“WHO plays an irreplaceable role in the global public health crisis, and the U.S. decision to halt its funding will undermine international cooperation in the fight against COVID19, affecting countries including the U.S., said Zhao Lijian, spokesman of China’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.
“To beat the Coronavirus global initiative funding is needed. To this end I decided to host an online pledging conference on the 4th of May. This will help address the immediate funding gaps to come up with innovative and equitable solutions, ” Ursula Von Der Leyen, the President of the EU Commission said on Wednesday.
Ursula von der Leyen says her pledging conference in May to raise funds for a vaccine effort will be done in coordination with the WHO, adding she hopes other countries will participate.
Former New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clark says US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull funding from the World Health Organisation is “foolish”.
President of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat said Trump’s decision to suspend funding to WHO is deeply regrettable.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Twitter: “Deeply regret U.S. decision to suspend funding to WHO. There is no reason justifying this move at a moment when their efforts are needed more than ever.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he sympathised with Trump’s criticisms of the WHO, especially its “unfathomable” support of re-opening China’s “wet markets”, where freshly slaughterd, and live, animals are sold.
“But that said, the WHO also as an organisation does a lot of important work including here in our region in the Pacific and we work closely with them,” Morrison added.
“We are not going to throw the baby out of with the bathwater here, but they are also not immune from criticism”.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the WHO was essential to tackling the pandemic.
“At a time like this when we need to be sharing information and we need to have advice we can rely on, the WHO has provided that,” she said. “We will continue to support it and continue to make our contributions.
Halting funding for the World Health Organization during a world health crisis is as dangerous as it sounds. Their work is slowing the spread of COVID-19 and if that work is stopped no other organization can replace them. The world needs @WHO now more than ever.
— Bill Gates (@BillGates) April 15, 2020
Decision of USA🇺🇸 President to defund @WHO is disastrous. WHO is working to turn tide on #Covid_19; it is not responsible for President ignoring advice which could have seen a fast USA response & saved thousands of lives. This is no time for #blamegame. https://t.co/HtBk5UHai9
— Helen Clark (@HelenClarkNZ) April 14, 2020
Lots to criticize in @WHO response. But Trump’s halting funds amid pandemic is obscene. Everything Trump has criticized @WHO – trusting China’s lies, flattering China, being late in sounding the #covid alarm – were the very mistakes Trump made & he’s a hell of a lot more powerful https://t.co/mhu02B1JmX
— Samantha Power (@SamanthaJPower) April 15, 2020
The USgovt decision to suspend funding to @WHO is deeply regrettable. Today more than ever,the world depends on WHO’s leadership to steer the global #Covid_19 pandemic response.Our collective responsibility to ensure WHO can fully carry out its mandate, has never been more urgent
— Moussa Faki Mahamat (@AUC_MoussaFaki) April 15, 2020