Trump suspends funding for WHO

Trump suspends funding for WHO

As the world grapples with containing the Covid-19 pandemic and total deaths now stand at almost 126,000, US President Donald Trump has announced a suspension of his country's funding for the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Trump has today alleged the WHO severely mismanaged the health crisis, which began in the Chinese city of Wuhan in November last year.

"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, vet and share information in a timely and transparent fashion.

"The world depends on the WHO to work with countries to ensure that accurate information about international health threats is shared in a timely manner, and if it's not to independently tell the world the truth about what is happening, the WHO failed in this basic duty and must be held accountable."

The President said he was instructing his Administration to halt funding for the WHO while a review is undertaken to assess the organisation's "role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus".

"American taxpayers provide between $400 million and $500 million per year to the WHO - in contrast China contributes roughly $40 million a year and even less," he said.

"As the organization's leading sponsor the United States has a duty to insist on full accountability.

"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."

In an interview with 6PR, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he sympathised with Trump's criticisms of the WHO and noted he'd made a few of his own.

"We called this thing weeks before the WHO did," he said.

"If we were relying on their advice, then I suspect we would have been suffering the same fate that many other countries currently are. We were calling it a pandemic back in early January or mid-January, I should say.

"The WHO is also as an organisation does a lot of important work, including here in our own region in the Pacific, and we work closely with them so that we're not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater here. But they're also not immune from criticism and immune from doing things better."

The PM dismissed criticisms from some that the economic damage wrought by measures taken to slow the virus spread is worse than the health crisis itself.

"I think they should Google Italy, the United Kingdom, New York, any of these countries will do, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands. And look at the horror show that's happening there and ask themselves the same question," he said.

Updated at 9:46am AEST on 15 April 2020.

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