Trump halts WHO funding over handling of COVID-19 pandemic; decision criticised by UN chief, Bill Gates

United States President Donald Trump on Tuesday cut off funding to the World Health Organization (WHO), citing mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason. The US contributed USD 400 million to the WHO last year.

Trump accused the UN body of propagating "false information" and said that the WHO’s dependence on Chinese data "likely caused a 20-fold increase in cases worldwide."

He accused the Geneva-based body of "severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus."

Trump’s decision has come in for criticism from various quarters especially as accusations against the president of mismanaging the crisis in the US are growing louder as the death toll in the country continues to rise. 

Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates tweeted that “halting funding for the World Health Organization during a world health crisis is as dangerous as it sounds”, adding that the “world needs @WHO now more than ever”. 

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also urged the US government not to cut funding, saying, “Now is a time for unity in the global battle to push the COVID-19 pandemic into reverse, not a time to cut the resources of the World Health Organization (WHO), which is spearheading and coordinating the global body’s efforts.” 

“It is my belief that the World Health Organization must be supported, as it is absolutely critical to the world’s efforts to win the war against COVID-19,” he added.