Trump’s decision to stop WHO funding generates global rejection


By Jeff Mason and Paulina Duran

WASHINGTON / SYDNEY, Apr 15 (Reuters) – The decision of United States President Donald Trump to stop funding the World Health Organization for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic prompted the rejection of world leaders on Wednesday, that called for cooperation and unity.

Trump, who has reacted furiously to accusations that his government’s response to the worst epidemic in a century was disorderly and too slow, had become increasingly hostile to the United Nations agency before announcing Tuesday that it would stop financing.

The Geneva-based WHO spread China’s “disinformation” about the virus, and that likely led to a larger outbreak than would otherwise have occurred, Trump said.

The organization did not investigate credible reports from sources in China’s Wuhan province, where the virus was initially identified in December, which contradicted Beijing’s accounts of the spread and “publicly repeated and supported” the idea that there had been no transmission between human, Trump argued.

“The WHO failed in its basic duty and must be held accountable,” Trump said Tuesday at the White House.

A United States official told Reuters that Trump made the decision despite resistance within his government, especially from his health advisers. There was no immediate reaction from the WHO, which has asked for more than $ 1 billion to finance its pandemic operations.

The United States is the largest donor to the WHO and in 2009 contributed more than $ 400 million, about 15% of its budget.

About 2 million people globally have been infected and more than 127,000 have died from the disease, according to a Reuters count.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement that reducing WHO resources is not a good idea. “Now is the time to unite and for the international community to work in solidarity to stop this virus and its devastating consequences.”

China, which received praise from the WHO for its actions to stem the spread of the virus, urged the United States on Wednesday to meet its obligations to the organization.

“This decision weakens the WHO’s capacity and damages international cooperation,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Twitter: “I deeply regret the decision by the United States to suspend funding to WHO. There is no reason to justify this move at a time when its efforts are more necessary than ever. “

(Report from Reuters newsrooms around the world; Written by Lincoln Feast and Nick Macfie; Edited in Spanish by Ricardo Figueroa)