US President Trump's announcement that he would halt payments to the World Health Organization at the time of a global pandemic has sparked harsh backlash by leaders and experts around the world.
The US decision to freeze funding to the World Health Organization over what President Donald Trump said was its "mismanaging" of the global coronavirus pandemic triggered anger and concern on Wednesday.
Trump announced on Tuesday that the United States would halt payments to the UN body that amounted to $400 million last year.
He said it would be frozen pending a review into the WHO's role in "severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus," said Trump, who accused the Geneva-based body of putting "political correctness above life-saving measures."
Trump charged that the outbreak could have been contained "with very little death" if the WHO had accurately assessed the situation in China, where the disease broke out late last year.
Hours after the decision, the WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said his organisation is purely focused on saving lives and halting the coronavirus pandemic.
"There is no time to waste. WHO's singular focus is on working to serve all people to save lives and stop the COVID-19 pandemic," he said on Twitter.
Here are some of the reactions from across the world to Trump's move:
'Critical to war against virus'
"(It is) not the time to reduce the resources for the operations of the World Health Organization or any other humanitarian organization in the fight against the virus" – UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
"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."
'Undermining international cooperation'
"China is seriously concerned about the US announcement to suspend funding for the World Health Organization" – Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian.
"The current global epidemic situation is grim. It is at a critical moment. This US decision will weaken WHO's capacities and undermine the international cooperation against the epidemic."
"We urge the United States to earnestly fulfill their responsibilities and obligations, and support the WHO-led international action against the epidemic," Zhao said, adding that the agency plays an "irreplaceable role" against the pandemic.
"Deeply regret US decision to suspend funding to WHO" – EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Twitter.
"There is no reason justifying this move at a moment when their efforts are needed more than ever to help contain and mitigate the coronavirus pandemic.
"Only by joining forces we can overcome this crisis that knows no borders."
'Blaming others won't help'
"Blaming others won't help. The virus knows no borders" – German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Twitter.
"One of the best investments is to strengthen the UN, above all the under-financed WHO ... in the development and distribution of tests and vaccines."
'World needs WHO more than ever'
"Halting funding for the World Health Organization during a world health crisis is as dangerous as it sounds. Their work is slowing the spread of Covid-19 and if that work is stopped no other organization can replace them. The world needs @WHO now more than ever" – Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates on Twitter.
Through his foundation, Gates is one of the main private funders of the WHO.
Halting funding for the World Health Organization during a world health crisis is as dangerous as it sounds. Their work is slowing the spread of COVID-19 and if that work is stopped no other organization can replace them. The world needs @WHO now more than ever.— Bill Gates (@BillGates) April 15, 2020
'Weakening central institution'
"The last thing we need now is to attack the WHO" – former WHO director-general Gro Harlem Brundtland.
"This means weakening our central global institution," said the 71-year-old doctor and former Norwegian prime minister who headed the WHO between 1997 and 2003.
"Today more than ever, the world depends on WHO's leadership to steer the global #Covid_19 pandemic response. Our collective responsibility to ensure WHO can fully carry out its mandate, has never been more urgent," – chairman of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat said in a Twitter post.
US President Trump's decision to freeze funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) amid the coronavirus pandemic is "deeply regrettable."
'A crime against humanity'
Richard Horton, editor of medical journal The Lancet, condemned Trump's decision as an "appalling act that violates every principle of solidarity that we need more than ever today"
Horton said that Trump's decision was "a crime against humanity … Every scientist, every health worker, every citizen must resist and rebel against this appalling betrayal of global solidarity."
'A dangerous step'
President of American Medical Association Dr Patrice Harris called it "a dangerous step in the wrong direction that will not make defeating Covid-19 easier" and urged President Trump to reconsider.
Imagining Putin’s thinking this morning:”When I interfered in 2016 election to help Trump & undermine US leadership in the world, even I never thought he would halt funding to @WHO amid the worst pandemic in a century. His destruction of US credibility exceeds my wildest dreams.”— Samantha Power (@SamanthaJPower) April 15, 2020
"The move sends the wrong message during the middle of a pandemic," said Dr Amesh Adalja, an infectious diseases expert and senior scholar at Johns Hopkins University centre for health security.
Adalja said the WHO does make mistakes, as it did in delaying the response to the Ebola outbreak in 2013 and 2014 in West Africa. He said reforms may be needed, but that work needs to take place after the pandemic has passed.
"It's not the middle of a pandemic that you do this type of thing," he said.
Adalja said the WHO collects information about where the virus is active in every county in the world, which the United States needs to help guide decisions about when to open borders.
"This is nothing more than a transparent attempt by President Trump to distract from his history downplaying the severity of the coronavirus crisis and his administration’s failure to prepare our nation," said Chair Leslie Dach of Protect Our Care.
Protect Our Care is a US organisation working to protect affordable coverage for all Americans.
Dach who served as the global Ebola coordinator for the US Department of Health and Human Services, said: "To be sure, the World Health Organization is not without fault but it is beyond irresponsible to cut its funding at the height of a global pandemic. This move will undoubtedly make Americans less safe."
Will Congress, which authorized the WHO funding, resist Trump’s order to stop it? This has echoes of Ukraine aid hold and WH diversion of Pentagon money to the wall. Few Republicans will challenge Trump but the precedent for future presidents is notable.— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) April 15, 2020
'Virus doesn't need passports'
"This virus doesn't need passports. In a few short months it has travelled to all of the continents of the world except Antarctica. If there were ever an event that showed us how we need to work tougher as a global community, this is it," said Dr William Schaffner, an infectious disease experts.
Trump 'administration mismanaged this crisis'
"With each passing day of this worsening crisis, the president is showing us his political playbook: blame the WHO, blame China, blame his political opponents, blame his predecessors - do whatever it takes to deflect from the fact that his administration mismanaged this crisis and it’s now costing thousands of American lives," Democratic representative Eliot Engel said.
'We will continue to support' WHO
"At a time like this when we need to be sharing information and we need to have advice we can rely on, the WHO has provided that. We will continue to support it and continue to make our contributions," New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
Not throwing 'baby out with the bathwater'
Australian PM Scott Morrison said he sympathised with Trump's criticisms of the WHO, especially its support of re-opening China's "wet markets", where freshly slaughtered animals are sold and where the outbreak first appeared in the city of Wuhan late last year.
"But that said, the WHO also as an organisation does a lot of important work including here in our region in the Pacific and we work closely with them," Morrison said.
"We are not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater here, but they are also not immune from criticism and immune from doing things better."