US President Donald Trump says the United States is “terminating” its relationship with the World Health Organisation.
Speaking from the Rose Garden of the White House on Friday (local time), Mr Trump accused the UN agency of failing to enact reforms in the face of US concerns over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic and that it put too much faith in information from China.
Mr Trump said Chinese officials “ignored” their reporting obligations to the WHO and pressured them into misleading the world when the virus was first discovered.
Mr Trump said the WHO had failed to make reforms to the organisation that he had demanded in a May 18 letter to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
That letter had given the WHO 30 days to commit to reforms.
Mr Trump has repeatedly threatened to eliminate American funding for the group — which amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars a year — and blamed China for the spread of the coronavirus and the economic impact it has had on the global economy.
“China has total control over the World Health Organisation despite only paying $40 million per year compared to what the United States has been paying which is approximately $450 million a year,” he said.
“Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organisation and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs.”
“China’s cover-up of the Wuhan virus allowed the disease to spread all over the world.”
Mr Trump did not provide further details of where those funds would be directed.
The US is the largest source of financial support to the WHO. Its exit is expected to significantly weaken the organisation and could have global implications on the WHO’s response to the pandemic.
The WHO did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Mr Trump’s decision.
“We have consistently called for all states to support WHO,” a spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said
Mr Trump has long questioned the value of the United Nations and scorned the importance of multilateralism as he focuses on an “America first” agenda.
Since taking office, he has quit the UN Human Rights Council, the UN cultural agency UNESCO, a global accord to tackle climate change and the Iran nuclear deal.