U.S. halts funding of World Health Organization amid COVID-19 pandemic

President+Donald+Trump+watches+as+Warner+Thomas%2C+CEO+and+president+of+Ochsner+Health+System%2C+during+the+press+briefing+on+Tuesday+April+14%2C+in++the+White+House+Rose+Garden.+Image+taken+from+whitehouse.gov+via+live+stream.

President Donald Trump watches as Warner Thomas, CEO and president of Ochsner Health System, during the press briefing on Tuesday April 14, in the White House Rose Garden. Image taken from whitehouse.gov via live stream.

By Ryan Bough

On April 14, U.S. President Donald Trump announced a halt in funding to the World Health Organization while a review is being conducted to assess the WHO’s role in “severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of COVID-19.”

“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. “The reality is that the WHO failed to adequately obtain that and share information in a timely and transparent fashion.”

The United States is the WHO’s largest single funder, providing $400 million last year which is just under 15% of the WHO’s total budget. According to the WHO’s website, China’s contribution last year was nearly $76 million in assessed contributions and around $10 million in voluntary funding.

Trump accused the WHO of failing to investigate claims and reports in Wuhan, China when the outbreak first began.

“The WHO failed to investigate credible reports from sources in Wuhan that conflicted directly with the Chinese government’s official accounts. There was credible information to suspect human-to-human transmission in December 2019, which should have spurred the WHO to investigate and investigate immediately,” Trump said.

President Donald Trump addresses the press regarding the COVID-19 response on Tuesday, April 14, in the White House Rose Garden.
President Donald Trump addresses the press regarding the COVID-19 response on Tuesday, April 14, in the White House Rose Garden. Image taken from whitehouse.gov via live stream.

On the same day Trump announced the halt, UN Secretary-General António Guterres wrote in a statement about how now is not the time to restrict resources to the WHO.

“This virus is unprecedented in our lifetime and requires an unprecedented response. Obviously, in such conditions, it is possible that the same facts have had different readings by different entities,” Guterres said. “The lessons learned will be essential to effectively address similar challenges, as they may arise in the future. But now is not that time. As it is not that time, it is also not the time to reduce the resources for the operations of the World Health Organization or any other humanitarian organization in the fight against the virus.”

Trump said that the review would last between 60-90 days and during that time his administration would channel the money elsewhere to combat COVID-19.

In a statement by the American Medical Association, President of the AMA, Dr. Patrice Harris wrote about how halting funds for the WHO is a misstep for fighting COVID-19.

“During the worst public health crisis in a century, halting funding to the World Health Organization is a dangerous step in the wrong direction that will not make defeating COVID-19 easier,” Harris wrote. “The AMA is deeply concerned by this decision and its wide-ranging ramifications, and we strongly urge the President to reconsider.”

According to WorldMeter, the world just topped 2 million COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday afternoon. The U.S. has the highest number of cases at 641,299. In regards to deaths, the U.S. has lost 28,383 Americans to COVID-19 but 47,977 have recovered from the virus.