US President Donald Trump has given a 30-day deadline to the World Health Organisation (WHO) to make major improvements, warning that otherwise the temporary funding freeze will be made permanent. In a letter to WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Trump said that his administration’s probe into the UN health agency’s COVID-19 response confirmed its “alarming lack of independence” from China.
Trump accused the WHO of ignoring credible reports of the virus spreading in Wuhan, the first epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, and failed to investigate credible reports that conflicted with the accounts of Chinese authorities. The US President said that the health agency failed to press China for the timely admittance of a WHO team of international medical experts, even after “belatedly” declaring the outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
Trump chided Dr Ghebreyesus for not following the precedents of virus outbreaks, especially after the SARS outbreak when the then WHO Director-General Harlem Brundtland did not hesitate to criticise China for endangering global health by attempting a “cover-up”. He added that many lives would have been saved had the current WHO chief followed Dr Brundtland’s example.
“I will make temporary freeze of United States funding to the World Health Organisation permanent and reconsider our membership in the organisation,” wrote Trump.
Before sharing the letter, Trump said that he chose not to make a statement at the World Health Assembly, calling the UN health agency a “puppet of China”. He claimed that more people would have died from coronavirus in the country had he not imposed a ban on travel from China, which was opposed by the health agency.
“They (WHO) are a puppet of China. They're China-centric, to put it nicer. But they're a puppet of China. I think they have done a very sad job,” said Trump.