U.S. President Donald Trump announced on Sunday that he was considering restoring some funds to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Trump froze funding for the WHO in April after he criticised the organisation for its response to the coronavirus pandemic and accused it of being biased in favour of China.
The announcement, of course, came via Twitter. In a tweet, Trump said that the U.S. was considering various “concepts” for WHO funding. One of the concepts includes restoring 10 per cent of funding to the organisation, or matching China’s contributions. Trump added that he had not made a final decision and that the funds, for now, remained frozen.
Trump’s freeze on WHO funding lasts for 60 to 90 days. During that time, the administration will review the organisation’s actions.
The president’s decision was criticised by international leaders and at home. On Capitol Hill, Democrats said that Trump’s move was illegal given that Congress had already appropriated money to the WHO. Meanwhile, the White House claimed that the president had “broad discretion” over the money allocated to the WHO.
The U.S. was the WHO’s biggest funder. As of the end of 2019, the U.S. had given the WHO $US893 million ($1.39 billion) in contributions. In comparison, China had given the organisation roughly $US86 ($134) million at the same time last year. Per the Wall Street Journal, no country comes close to U.S. funding, which makes up 15 per cent of the WHO’s budget.
Nonetheless, since the onset of the pandemic, China has given the international health agency millions more in contributions. Some experts have said that the move is political and a way for China to portray itself as a global leader in the fight against coronavirus rather than the country which the virus originated from.
“The United States of America has been a long standing and generous friend to WHO and we hope it will continue to be so,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s director general, after Trump froze funding. “We regret the decision of the president of the United States to order a hold in funding to the World Health Organisation.”