US halts WHO funding, Trump accuses global health agency of 'covering up' COVID-19 spread

The US President further stated that as WHO’s leading sponser, the United States has a duty to insist on full accountability.

Created On: Apr 15, 2020 11:57 IST
Donald Trump
Donald Trump

Donald Trump on April 14, 2020 instructed his administration to halt funding of the World Health Organisation. Trump stated that a review will be conducted to assess WHO’s role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus.

Trump in a press conference hit out against the World Health Organisation saying that the American taxpayers provide between USD 400-500 million per year to the WHO, in contrast China contributes roughly USD 40 million per year and even less.

Trump further told the reporters at the White House that he has deep concerns about whether America's generosity has been put to the best use possible. He accused WHO of propagating "false information about transmission and mortality," and claimed that its reliance on Chinese data had most likely caused a 20-fold increase in cases across the world.

WHO’s opposition to travel restrictions from China most disastrous: Trump

The US President further stated that as the organisation’s leading sponsor, the United States has a duty to insist on full accountability. He pointed out that one of the most dangerous and costly decisions from the WHO was its disastrous decision to oppose travel restrictions from China and other nations. “They were very much opposed to what we did. Fortunately, I was not convinced and suspended travel from China, saving an untold number of lives. Thousands and thousands of people would have died,” claimed Trump. 

Coronavirus Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has infected nearly two million people across the world since it was first detected in Wuhan, China in December 2019. The death toll due to the deadly virus has risen to more than 125,000 people. The United States with 6,12,380 confirmed cases has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world. The death toll is also the highest in the United States with almost 25,949 people succumbing to the disease. Europe is the second-most affected region in the world with Italy accounting for 21,067 coronavirus deaths and Spain reporting 18,255 deaths. The death toll in France and the United Kingdom has also risen to 15,729 and 12,107 respectively. 

Global Lockdown Measures

The deadly pandemic has resulted in lockdowns across the globe with nations imposing nation-wide lockdown measures to curb the spread of the virus, reducing death tolls. The move, however, has had an adverse impact on the global economy with most global economic activities shut since over a month. 

Some nations are preparing to ease lockdown measures as the death toll and tally of new infections appear to be wearing off. However, the matter as to when is the right time to lift restrictions has been up for debate among world leaders and citizens. 

While Trump said he could see "rays of light" at the end of the tunnel for the United States and is looking to begin opening up the economy from May 1, 2020, experts advise otherwise. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned earlier that the lockdown measures "must be lifted slowly," noting that COVID-19 is 10 times deadlier than the H1N1 swine flu outbreak.

Italy and Australia lifted certain restrictions on April 14, 2020 by letting some shops to reopen. Spain has also allowed its construction and factory workers to return to their jobs. Children’s clothing shops and bookstores reopened in Italy. 

On the other hand, France extended its lockdown by a month and India extended the lockdown period at least till May 3, 2020, despite dire economic forecasts. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the move was necessary to ensure the safety of people. 

According to the International Monetary Fund, the "Great Lockdown" would lead to one of the worst global downturns since the Great Depression of the 1930s. IMF noted that the global economy is expected to shrink by 3 percent this year with the US economy expected to be the hardest-hit and is likely to shrink by 5.9 percent. 

About WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized UN agency that is responsible for international public health. The organisation is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland and has six semi-autonomous regional offices and 150 field offices worldwide.

The WHO's main responsibility includes:

Advocating for universal healthcare

Monitoring public health risks

Coordinating responses to health emergencies

Promoting human health and well being

The World Health Organization relies on assessed and voluntary contributions from the member states and private donors for funding. The US contributed $400 million to the WHO in 2019.


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