President accused organisation of ‘severely mismanaging’ outbreak as he faces backlash for his own slow response
After Donald Trump’s threats to suspend funding to the World Health Organization and accusations that the group had “covered up” coronavirus warnings, WHO says “we regret the decision of the president” amid calls for global unity to defeat the pandemic.
“Now is the time for us to be united against a common struggle, a common enemy,” Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday. “When we’re divided, the virus exploits the cracks between us.”
He previously had criticised the president for politicising the virus, warning him to “stop pointing fingers” unless the US wants “more body bags”.
“It’s like playing with fire,” he said earlier this month.
WHO is “assessing how its programmes will be affected” by the administration’s decision, the director-general said. The suspension could result in millions of dollars in a funding shortfall, based on 2020-2021 budgets, as the organisation mounts a global response to the Covid-19 disease requiring international support.
On Tuesday, the president announced the US would suspend financial support for the WHO after he defected blame for the slow response to the crisis in the US following reports that he largely ignored warnings from members of his administration for several weeks.
He accused WHO of “severely mismanaging” the global response and “pushing misinformation” from China’s government. The announcement came a day after he aggressively defended the US response, including his restrictions on travel from China at the end of January, and screened a video to reporters that downplayed the outbreak’s impact, without answering whether the administration deployed any response in the entire month of February.
Read more of this report