US President Donald Trump says his administration will halt funding to the World Health Organisation, pending a review.
Mr Trump made the announcement at a White House briefing on Wednesday morning (Australian time).
“I’m instructing my administration to halt funding of the World Health Organisation while a review is conducted to assess the world World Health Organisation’s role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus,” he said.
The President said “so much death has been caused by their mistakes”.
“It would have been so easy to be truthful,” he said.
“We will continue to engage with the WHO to see if it can make meaningful reforms.”
Mr Trump said the world depended on the United Nations’ agency to work with countries to make sure accurate information about health threats were shared in a timely manner.
The coronavirus has been blamed for more than 125,000 deaths worldwide, including more than 25,000 in the US.
The US contributed nearly $US900 million ($A1.4 billion) to the WHO’s budget for 2018-19, according to information on the agency’s website. That represents a fifth of its total $4.4 billion budget for those years.
In its most recent budget proposal from February, the Trump administration called for slashing the US assessed funding contribution to the WHO to $57.9 million.
Mr Trump said he had deep concerns about whether “US generosity” had been put to the best possible use at the UN organisation.
The coronavirus outbreak could have been contained at its source, sparing thousands of lives, if the WHO had done a better job investigating reports coming out of China, Mr Trump said.
Instead, he accused it of promoting China’s “disinformation” about the virus.
The announcement came a week after Mr Trump threatened the move. At the time, he said the WHO was “China-centric” and had “missed the call” on the coronavirus pandemic.
There was no immediate comment from the Geneva-based organisation on Mr Trump’s announcement. But when asked about possible US funding cuts during a regular UN briefing earlier on Tuesday, WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris responded, “Regardless of any issues, our work will go on.”