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Iran Press TV

Trump expanding war on WHO far beyond aid freeze as he seeks COVID-19 scapegoat: Report

Iran Press TV

Sunday, 26 April 2020 1:02 PM

The Trump administration is aggressively attacking the World Health Organization (WHO) as the US president seeks to deflect criticism of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report.

Last week, President Donald Trump put a 60-day hold on funding for the WHO and ordered a review of the world body which he has accused of mismanaging the outbreak.

However, steps taken by Trump and his officials go beyond the suspension of aid, The Washington Post reported, citing American and foreign officials involved in the discussions.

At the State Department, coronavirus fact sheets presented by officials are skipping references to the WHO, while Secretary of States Mike Pompeo has directed department employees to "cut out the middle man" when it comes to public health plans the US previously supported through the world body.

The US is instead looking to redirect the WHO funding to non-government organizations dealing with public health issues, US officials told the newspaper.

"The Secretary has asked the State Department and USAID to identify and utilize alternative implementers for foreign assistance programs beyond the WHO," according to a memo sent to State Department employees in recent days and seen by the Post.

The Trump administration has also delayed a UN Security Council resolution being advanced by France, because it disagrees with language in the draft expressing support for the WHO, according to European officials familiar with the matter.

Furthermore, the White House is also encouraging US allies to cast aspersions on the WHO's credibility and push unsubstantiated claims that its employees frequently enjoy "luxury travel."

"It has been impossible to find a common ground with the US about the views on the work and role of WHO," a senior European official told the newspaper on the condition of anonymity.

President Trump, who spent crucial period in February and early March downplaying COVID-19, is now claiming that the pandemic would have been contained with little death, is now desperately seeking a scapegoat to shift the blame as the US leads the world on fatalities.

America has reported nearly one million cases of infection, while the death toll from the respiratory disease stands at over 54 thousand.

Trump's efforts to discredit the WHO during a global pandemic have raised concerns about permanent weakening of the world body.

More than 1,000 organizations and individuals including charities, medical experts and healthcare companies from around the world have written to President Trump urging him to reverse course on the WHO.

"The United States cannot rid this insidious virus from the country, nor around the world, without WHO," read the letter sent to the White House on Thursday night."WHO is the only organization with the technical capacity and global mandate to support the public health response of all countries during this critical time."

Signatories include influential companies and groups such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, Oxfam, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the American Public Health Association and the healthcare company Kaiser Permanente, according to the CNN.

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