US President Donald Trump threatened on Monday to permanently halt funding for the World Health Organization (WHO) if it did not commit to improvements within 30 days, and to reconsider the membership of the United States in the body.
Trump suspended US contributions to the WHO last month, accusing it of promoting China’s “disinformation” about the coronavirus outbreak, although WHO officials denied the accusation and China said it was transparent and open.
“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,” Trump told its chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in a letter posted on Twitter.
Earlier, Trump said the WHO had “done a very sad job” in its handling of the virus and he would make a decision soon on U.S. funding.
In his letter Trump said the only way forward for the body was if it could demonstrate independence from China, adding that his administration had already started reform discussions with Tedros.
This is the letter sent to Dr. Tedros of the World Health Organization. It is self-explanatory! pic.twitter.com/pF2kzPUpDv
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 19, 2020
On Monday, the WHO said an independent review of the global virus response would begin as soon as possible and it received backing and a hefty pledge of funds from China, in the spotlight as the origin of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, The Lancet, whose alleged report Trump had cited in his letter, has termed it “factually incorrect”.
Statement from The Lancet in response to President Donald Trump’s May 18 letter to Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization pic.twitter.com/JX8orfpMPB
— The Lancet (@TheLancet) May 19, 2020
“In that letter, President Trump reports the results of a review his administration conducted into WHO’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. President Trump wrote that “we know the following” and the first allegation he makes is that WHO “consistely ignored credible reports of the virus spreading in Wuhan in early December 2019, including reports from the Lancet medical journal.
The Lancet has termed the citation “factually incorrect.” “The Lancet published no report in December 2019 referring to a virus or outbreak in Wuhan or anywhere else in China,” it clarified in the statement.