US President Donald Trump threatened to walk out of the World Health Organisation (WHO) today. He once again accused the Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus-led global health body chief of acting at China’s behest. He said the WHO mismanaged the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) initially, which led to its turning into a global pandemic.
“It is clear the repeated missteps by you and your organization in responding to the pandemic have been extremely costly for the world. The only way forward for the World Health Organization is if it can actually demonstrate independence from China,” Trump said in a letter to Tedros Adhanom.
The letter reads: “The WHO failed to independently investigate credible reports that conflicted directly with the Chinese government’s official accounts, even those that came from sources within Wuhan itself.”
Trump detailed in this four-page letter every occasion since December 2019 when the WHO did not act on the available information, made misleading claims or gave the world bad advice.
Trump gave Tedros 30 days to commit to major substantive improvements, warning that if the WHO doesn’t deliver on this, “I will make my temporary freeze of United States funding to the WHO permanent and reconsider our membership”.
“It is clear the repeated missteps by you and your organisation in responding to the pandemic have been extremely costly for the world,” Trump said in the concluding para of the letter. “The only way forward for the WHO is if it can can actually demonstrate independence from China.”
Trump has also threatened to permanently stop funding of the WHO and reconsider membership of the United States in the body. “If the WHO does not commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days, I will make my temporary freeze of United States funding to the WHO permanent and reconsider our membership in the organization,” Trump told WHO chief Tedros in the letter.
Sirf News was perhaps the only news medium that reported the WHO’s classification of COVID as a “pandemic” in a negative light the very day Tedros had made the announcement. We had said they made this classification “reluctantly”, also detailing how many signal’s of China’s wrongdoing they missed:
Trump sent the letter hours after the WHO’s policymaking body began its meeting yesterday. At that meeting, China was forced to back down. It had predictably opposed a probe into the origin of the virus that has killed nearly 3.2 lakh people and infected millions across the world. The meeting will pass a formal resolution today.
In the letter, Trump did not spell out the improvements or reforms that he was looking for. “My administration has already started discussions with you on how to reform the organisation,” he wrote to Tedros.
Diplomats in Washington and Geneva said the letter from Trump had put the WHO chief on notice. They said it appeared to be preparing the ground for an exit from the WHO.
In the meantime, representatives from 194-member nations at the WHA, where China did not allow the entry of its bugbear Taiwan, met over video conference for a truncated session that is to end in a few hours. “Any major reform, like the one the US President appears to be looking for, can only be made with the approval of the general body, the WHA,” a diplomat said.
While this isn’t the first time that the Trump administration has spoken about walking out of the UN’s health body, the letter to the WHO director-general turns the threat formal.
Earlier, Trump had led the US out of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the United Nations Human Rights Council. Last year, the US president came close to backing out of the Universal Postal Union.