Trump faces backlash for cutting WHO funding amid pandemic

Updated: 16 April, 2020 07:49 IST | Agencies | Washington

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the bloc 'deeply' regrets the suspension of funds and added that the WHO is now "needed more than ever" to combat the pandemic

The official death toll soared to over 10,000 in New York City on Tuesday after health authorities began including people who probably had COVID-19, but died without ever being tested. Pic/AFP
The official death toll soared to over 10,000 in New York City on Tuesday after health authorities began including people who probably had COVID-19, but died without ever being tested. Pic/AFP

Nations around the world reacted with alarm Wednesday after President Donald Trump announced a halt to the sizable funding the US sends to the World Health Organisation. Health experts warned the move could jeopardize global efforts to stop the Coronavirus pandemic.

Trump said he was instructing his administration to halt funding for WHO pending a review of its role "in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus." The United States is WHO's largest single donor, contributing between $400 million and $500 million annually to the Geneva-based agency in recent years. He has repeatedly labelled COVID-19 the "Chinese virus" and criticised the UN health agency for being too lenient on China, where the novel virus first emerged late last year.

EU 'deeply regrets' move
An investigation by The Associated Press has found that s ix days of delays between when Chinese officials k new about the virus and when they warned the public allowed the pandemic to bloom into an enormous public health disaster. The European Union said Trump has "no reason" to freeze WHO funding at this critical stage and called for measures to promote unity instead of division. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the bloc "deeply" regrets the suspension of funds and added that the WHO is now "needed more than ever" to combat the pandemic.

Stand with WHO: Oz
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he sympathised with some of Trump's criticisms of WHO and China but that Australia would continue to fund the UN health agency. Germany's foreign minister, Heiko Maas, pushed back at Trump's announcement. Devi Sridhar, chair of global public health at the University of Edinburgh, called said. "This is the agency that's looking out for other countries and leading efforts to stop the pandemic. This is exactly the time when they need more funding, not less. Trump is angry, but his anger is being directed in a way that is going to ultimately hurt US interests."

A selfish decision: Russia
Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told state news agency TASS, "I's a sign of the very selfish approach of the US authorities to what is happening in the world." Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the country is "seriously concerned" about the US government's decision to suspend funding and hinted at stepping up its monetary contribution to WHO. The WHO did not respond to repeated requests from The Associated Press for comment, but its but Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus tweeted, "There is no time to waste".

Now, Trump says states to decide on reopening economy

A day after claiming "total authority" in decision-making, Donald Trump on Tuesday said he would leave it to individual governors to decide on the reopening of the economy in their respective states, which in some cases could be even before May 1. COVID-19 has so far infected over two million people worldwide. In the US, over 25,000 have lost their lives and more than 6 lakhs have tested positive. Over 95 per cent of the 330 million population in the US are under stay-at-home order.

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First Published: 16 April, 2020 07:17 IST

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