President Trump threatened to permanently freeze of U.S. funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) and reconsider its membership if the global health entity “does not commit to major substantive improvements” in the next 30 days.
In a letter to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the president cited his administration’s investigation that found over a dozen “serious concerns” that he has raised last month regarding the organization’s response to the coronavirus pandemic in the early stages that “have been extremely costly for the world.”
“It is clear the repeated missteps by you and your organization in responding to the pandemic have been extremely costly for the world,” Trump wrote in the letter to which he tweeted late Monday night. “The only way forward for the World Health Organization is if it can actually demonstrate independence from China.”
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
Earlier on Monday, Trump faulted WHO for having done “a very sad job” and said he was considering whether to cut the annual U.S. funding from $450 million a year to $40 million.
“They gave us a lot of bad advice, terrible advice,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “They were wrong so much, always on the side of China.”
The letter outlined “repeated missteps” by WHO, such as ignoring “credible reports” of the coronavirus spreading in Wuhan, China late last year, and failed to investigate the Chinese government. It also accused the global health body for refusing to share the “critical information” with the world the Taiwanese authorities found while praising Chinese President Xi Jinping despite the government silencing or punishing “several doctors for speaking out.”
“My administration has already started discussions with you on how to reform the organization. But action is needed quickly. We do not have time to waste,” Trump wrote. “That is why it is my duty, as President of the United Staes, to inform you that, if the World Health Organization does not commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days, I will make my temporary freeze of United States funding to the World Health Organization permanent and reconsider our membership in the organization.”
“I cannot allow American taxpayer dollars to continue to finance an organization that, in its present state, is so clearly not serving America’s interests,” he added.
Last month, Trump announced that he temporarily halted funding to the organization pending an investigation from his administration.
“The US funds $400 million to $500 million to the WHO each year,” Trump said during a coronavirus Task Force press briefing on April 14, noting that China “contributes roughly $40 million.”
He emphasized the WHO “took China’s assurances at face value” and “pushed China’s misinformation about the virus,” while hiding “credible” evidence that the virus could spread from human-to-human transmission.
“Had the WHO done its job to get medical experts into China to objectively assess the situation on the ground and to call out China’s lack of transparency, the outbreak could have been contained at its source with very little death,” Trump said at that time.
The U.S. is the largest donor, out of nearly 200 countries to the health organization. Meanwhile, China contributes only about $40 million per year. Earlier this year, before the coronavirus outbreak, that crippled the world, the United States gave almost $58 million to the WHO for the year. That funding from the U.S. represents about 22% of the WHO’s budget.