United States (US) President Donald Trump has given an ultimatum to the World Health Organization (WHO) that it must show significant improvements in 30 days regarding how it dealt with the coronavirus pandemic and review issues concerning China’s handling of the virus outbreak.
Trump warned on Monday, May 18, 2020, that the US funding on the WHO would be freeze permanently until and unless the United Nations (UN) agency conducted a thorough review of the global virus response.
Trump’s Warning of Freezing Funding Permanently
Last month, Trump suspended the federal funding to the WHO, which was termed as “China-centric,” accusing the agency of mismanagement of the virus outbreak information and failing to curb the virus spread that erupted from China in December last year. However, the international health agency denied the US accusation and claimed that China had already declared that it was transparent regarding its virus response.
In a letter posted on Twitter, Trump told the WHO’s chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, “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.” In his letter, Trump emphasized that the WHO should demonstrate its independence from China in dealing with the virus pandemic by adding that his administration had already started reform discussions with Tedros.
On Monday, the WHO released a statement saying that it would launch an independent review of the global virus response as soon as possible and it also mentioned that it had received the backing of a hefty pledge of funds from China, in the spotlight as the origin of the pandemic.
US Funding Contributions to the WHO
Sources reported that the US contributed more than $400 million to the WHO in 2019, which was roughly 15% of the organization’s budget. In this year, Washington has already paid the WHO about $58 million, senior Trump administration officials said last month, half of what it was required to pay for a unit known as an assessed contribution.
Traditionally, the US traditionally provides several hundred million dollars annually as voluntary funding for WHO’s health-related programs such as polio eradication, vaccine-preventable disease, HIV and hepatitis, tuberculosis, and maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health. However, the US government has not yet disclosed how much voluntary funding it had already provided for WHO programs in 2020.
The US move was considered to be an impediment to Geneva-based WHO, which is currently leading a global initiative to develop safe and effective vaccines, tests, and drugs to prevent, diagnose, and treat COVID-19. According to the latest Reuters tally, more than 4.75 million people have been infected globally by the coronavirus disease and claimed the lives of 314,414 people.
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