Trump Announces U.S. Will Halt World Health Organization Funding

By Melanie Arter | April 14, 2020 | 7:31pm EDT
(Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

( - “Today I'm instructing my administration to halt funding of the World Health Organization while a review is conducted to assess the World Health Organization's role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus,” President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday at a White House Rose Garden press briefing with the Coronavirus Task Force.

“Everybody knows what's going on there. American taxpayers provide between $400 million and $500 million per year to the WHO. In contrast, China contributes $40 million a year or even less as the organization's leading sponsor,” the president said, adding that the U.S. “has a duty to insist on full accountability.”

At issue was the WHO’s decision to oppose Trump’s decision to restrict travel from China and other nations as well as their failure to “adequately obtain, vet, and share information in a timely and transparent fashion.”

“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 untold numbers of lives. Thousands and thousands of people would have died,” the president said.

“Had other nations likewise suspended travel from China, countless more lives would have been saved. Instead, look at the rest of the world and look at parts of Europe. Other nations and regions who follow WHO guidelines and kept their borders open to China accelerated the pandemic all around the world,” he said.

“Many countries, they said we’re going to listen to the WHO, and they have problems the likes of which they cannot believe, nobody can believe. The decision of other major countries to keep travel open was one of the great tragedies and missed opportunities from the early days,” Trump said, adding that WHO’s “attack on travel restrictions put political correctness above life-saving measures.”

“Travel bans work for the same reason that quarantines work. Pandemics depend on human to human transmission. Border control is fundamental to virus control,” the president added.

He noted that “since its establishment in 1948, the American people have generously supported the world health organization to provide better health outcomes for the world and most importantly help prevent global health crises.”

“With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have deep concerns whether America’s generosity has been put to the best use possible,” Trump said.

Furthermore, the WHO “failed to investigate credible reports from sources in Wuhan that conflicted directly with the Chinese government’s official accounts,” Trump said.

The president also pointed out that the organization was slow to acknowledge that human-to-human transmission of COVID-19 was possible.
“There was credible information to suspect human-to-human transmission in December 2019, which should have spurred the WHO to investigate and investigate immediately.  Through the middle of January, it parroted and publicly endorsed the idea that there was not human to human transmission happening despite reports and clear evidence to the contrary,” Trump said.

That delay in declaring COVID-19 “a public health emergency, cost valuable time,” the president said. “More time was lost in the delay it took to get a team of international experts into examine the outbreak, which we wanted to do, which they should have done.”

“The inability of the WHO to obtain virus samples to this date has deprived the scientific community of essential data. New data that emerges across the world on a daily basis points to the reliability of the initial reports, and the world received all sorts of false information about transmission and mortality,” Trump noted.

The president also criticized the WHO for its silence on the disappearance of Chinese researchers and doctors.

“The silence of the WHO on the disappearance of scientific researchers and doctors, and/or new restrictions on the sharing of research into the origins of COVID-19 in the country of origin is deeply concerning, especially when we put up by far the largest amount of money, not even close,” he said.

“Had the WHO done its job to get medical experts into China to objectively assess the situation underground and to call out China’s lack of transparency, the outbreak could have been contained at its source with very little death, very little death,.and certainly very little death by comparison. This would have saved thousands of lives and avoided worldwide economic damage,” Trump said.

“Instead, the WHO willingly took China’s assurances to face value, and they took it at face value and defended the actions of the Chinese government, even praising China for its so-called transparency. I don’t think so,” the president said.

“The WHO pushed China’s misinformation about the virus, saying it was not communicable and there was no need for travel bans. They told us when we put on our travel ban, a very strong travel ban, there was no need to do it. Don't do it. They actually fought us,” Trump said, predicting that the WHO’s “reliance on China’s disclosures likely caused a 20-fold increase in cases worldwide, and it may be much more than that.”

To add insult to injury, the president said, “the WHO has not addressed a single one of these concerns nor provided a serious explanation that acknowledges its own mistakes, of which there were many.”

If the United States cannot rely on the WHO for “accurate, timely and independent information,” it will be “forced to find other ways to work with other nations to achieve public health goals,” Trump said. 

The U.S. will give the WHO time to get its act together and will work directly with other countries in the meantime.

“We will continue to engage with the WHO to see if they can make meaningful reforms. For the time being, we will redirect global health and directly work with others. All of the aid that we send will be discussed at very, very powerful letters and with very powerful and influential groups and smart groups - medically, politically and every other way,” Trump said.

“And we’ll be discussing it with other countries and global health partners what we do with all of that money that goes to WHO, and maybe WHO will reform and maybe they won't, but we’ll be able to see,” he said.

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