THE UK has been urged to follow the lead of the US and Donald Trump by pulling hundreds of millions of pounds in annual funding to the World Health Organisation (WHO) over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
By Paul Withers Wed, Apr 15, 2020
The US President stunned the world on Tuesday when he announced he would be stopping funding to the organisation following weeks of criticism. Donald Trump has continued to claim the WHO had promoted China’s “disinformation” about the virus that likely led to a wider coronavirus outbreak than otherwise would have occurred. He claimed the WHO had failed to investigate credible reports from sources in China’s Wuhan province that conflicted with Beijing’s accounts about the spread and “parroted and publicly endorsed” the idea that human to human transmission was not happening.
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Mr Trump told a White House news conference: “The WHO failed in this basic duty and must be held accountable.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres hit back at the US President, warning it was not the time to reduce resources for the WHO,
He said in a statement: “Now is the time for unity and for the international community to work together in solidarity to stop this virus and its shattering consequences.”
The US is the biggest overall donor to the WHO, contributing more than $400 million in 2019, roughly 15 percent of its budget.
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Boris Johnson has been urged to follow Donald Trump and pull billions of funding from the WHO (Image: GETTY)
The US President lashed out at the WHO over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic (Image: GETTY)
But now the UK, the biggest donor to the organisation outside of the US, has also been urged to pull funding.
Christopher Snowdon, head of lifestyle economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs think tank, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has shown that the World Health Organisation needs to be reformed or replaced.
“As the organisation’s second-biggest funder, the UK should follow America’s lead. In 2018, the UK gave the WHO $200m, the equivalent of billions of face masks or thousands of ICU ventilators.
“It needs to be made clear that the WHO leadership has to be replaced and the agency has to return to its core mission of tackling epidemics with transparency, honesty and a single-minded focus.
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The UK is being urged to also pull funding from the WHO (Image: PA)
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“This is not the first time it has dropped the ball on infectious disease. The harsh truth is that it will not reform itself unless it is threatened with budget cuts.”
Reacting to the US President’s decision to pull funding to the WHO, Mr Snowdon said the organisation’s response to COVID-19 has been “dangerously inept and often bizarre”.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he said Mr Trump is “right to threaten to defund the WHO”, adding: “If it cannot be reformed, it should be replaced.”
But Mr Trump’s decision has sparked furious criticism from other countries and medical experts, particularly as the number of coronavirus infections has now exceeded two million across more than 200 countries.
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Coronavirus infections have spread to more than 200 countries (Image: GETTY)
The world is struggling to bring the coronavirus pandemic under control (Image: SKY NEWS)
China has urged the US to fulfil its obligations to the WHO, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian warning the pandemic was at a critical stage and that Washington’s decision would impact the whole world.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said the US announcement was “very alarming”.
He was quoted by the country’s TASS news agency as saying: “This is an example of a very selfish approach by the US authorities to what is happening in the world as regards the pandemic.
“Such a blow to this organisation at a time when the eyes of the world community are in many ways looking precisely to it is a step worthy of condemnation and censure.”
Daily new death rates from coronavirus in the UK (Image: EXPRESS)
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German Foreign Minister Heiko Mass wrote on Twitter: “Apportioning blame doesn’t help. The virus knows no borders”.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he sympathised with Mr Trump’s criticisms of the WHO, particularly its support of re-opening China’s wet markets, where the coronavirus outbreak first appeared in the city of Wuhan last year.
But he also warned: “The WHO also as an organisation does a lot of important work including here in our region in the Pacific and we work closely with them,” Morrison said.
“We are not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater here, but they are also not immune from criticism and immune from doing things better.”