Mbabane: President Trump announced late Monday that the United States might permanently withhold all of its funding from the World Health Organization (WHO) if “major substantive improvements” weren’t made in the next 30 days.
Trump blames the United Nations (UN) organization tasked with monitoring global health for bungling the early response to the pandemic and being too deferential to China.
Without specifying exact reforms, Trump said the organization must “actually demonstrate independence from China.”
Last month, presented the freezing of US funding to the WHO as a direct response to what he claims was its slow reaction in raising the alarm over the global threat from the coronavirus and being too “China-centric” in its response. But the organisation’s funding was already in his sights on February 7 , when his administration was suggesting cutting the US contribution, about E7.4 billion (US$400 million) annually, by half as part of E55.5 billion (U$3 billion) cuts to US global health funding across the board.
The WHO, to whom the US theoretically contributes roughly 10-15% of its budget as its largest contributor, has been appealing for an extra E18.5 billion ($1 billion) to help fight the coronavirus.
Trump also revealed that he has been taking hydroxychloroquine for about a week and a half to protect against the coronavirus, even though the drug can have deadly side effects and is not proven to prevent covid-19.
The Food and Drug Administration warned last month that hydroxychloroquine should not be taken outside of hospitals or clinical trials because it could lead to heart problems.
Donald Trump’s revelation that he is taking the drug hydroxychloroquine to prevent coronavirus sparked immediate criticism last night, including from Nancy Pelosi who said the ‘morbidly obese’ president is putting his health at risk.
Trump, 73, said he started taking the medication ‘a couple of weeks ago’ because ‘good things are being said about it’ helping coronavirus patients.
He has previously touted hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus ‘cure’, but the FDA has warned the drug – which is typically used to treat malaria – has a range of possibly lethal side-effects and has not been proven as an effective COVID-19 treatment.
Several studies are underway into the drug’s effectiveness in treating coronavirus and whether it can also protect against the disease, but so far there is no clear evidence it is beneficial.
Following Trump’s admission, House Speaker Pelosi was among a host of doctors and politicians who branded the move irresponsible.
She told CNN: “He’s our president and I would rather he not be taking something that has not been approved by the scientists.”
She went on to say: “Especially in his age group and in his, shall we say, weight group, what is morbidly obese, they say. So, I think that it’s not a good idea.”
However, a memo released by the White House shows that physician Dr Sean Conley discussed the drug with Trump and concluded that the potential benefits of taking it outweighed the risks.
Trump’s spokeswoman later told the New York Times that the president had been prescribed the drug and has been taking it, after Dr Conley’s note left some doubt.
The president said he does not have the virus, which has infected 1.53 million Americans and killed more than 90 000.
Here are some significant developments:
- Chinese leader Xi Jinping agreed to cooperate with an independent probe led by the World Health Organization — but only once the pandemic is over.
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) criticized the president’s decision to take hydroxychloroquine, “something that has not been approved by the scientists,” saying that he needed to be especially careful given his age and weight group, which she categorized as “morbidly obese.”