US president Donald Trump, threatened to permanently cut off funding of the World Health Organisation if it did not implement reforms in its working. The US leader accused the organisation for bias towards China and pressurised the group to initiate independent investigation against the communist nation to unfurl the mystery surrounding the origin of the novel coronavirus. Trump has publicly alleged China of creating the deadly virus in a lab in Wuhan, which has so far claimed around 318,000 lives.
The US president late Monday posted a four-page letter on Twitter, which read, “If the World Health Organization does not commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days, I will make my temporary freeze of United States funding to the World Health Organization permanent and reconsider our membership in the organization.”
Referring the letter addressed to WHO’s Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus,
Trump tweeted that it was “self-explanatory.” He gave the organisation 30-day time period to carry out the reforms but did not give out details of the reforms he was pushing for.
Trump’s letter came in the picture as a response to Chinese premier Xi Jinping’a announcement to give $2 billion to WHO, over the period of two years, to assist the nations, especially the poorer and more vulnerable ones in their battle against the pandemic. While addressing the World Health Assembly via a video conference, Xi said, “In China, after making painstaking efforts and sacrifice, we have turned the tide on the virus and protected lives. We have done everything in our power to support and assist countries in need.”
Washington saw the Chinese aid as a distraction from the issue to enforce the investigations against Beijing’s concealment of virus details at the time of initial outbreak. Trump also criticised the WHO chief for resisting the implementation of any international travel ban, even after declaring the situation as a global health emergency in late January.
Many nations, particularly in Africa, view Trumps concern stemming as one from US-China rivalry rather than concern for global health. WHO clearly promotes the denouncing of patents and intellectual property rights in case of global health emergency, but US wants the organisation to tweak the resolution and instead put emphasis on efforts like donation and partnership rather than completely lifting off the patents. US’s viewpoint was backed by all the nations with strong pharmaceutical industries including UK, Switzerland and Japan.
To put in perspective the US’ demand for dilution of language of the resolution, Ellen Hoen, a patents specialist at the University of Amsterdam, said that it took Africa more than 10 years to access affordable Aids medicines, a disease which killed millions in the continent.
She added that it was very common in case of a health emergency to see developed nations running to get to the ‘front of the queue and leave the rest of the world to fend for themselves”.