US President Donald Trump's announcement of halting funding to the World Health Organisation (WHO) will throw health sectors in developing countries such as Bangladesh into uncertainty.
At a news conference at the White House on Wednesday, Trump accused the WHO of "severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus" and said he would halt funding to the health agency of the United Nations.
The announcement comes at a time when the whole world is reeling from the onslaught of the novel coronavirus, which is taking its tolls on lives and economies across the globe.
Professor Muzaherul Huq, former adviser of WHO, Southeast Asia region, tells The Business Standard that the principal task of the WHO is to provide technical and financial support for the health sectors in underdeveloped and developing countries.
"If any government needs any foreign technical experts, the WHO recruits them.
"The USA is the biggest donor of the WHO. If the country halts the funding, it will surely have a crippling impact on the health organisation.
"Countries like Bangladesh which have weak health systems will be affected most. If the funding is stopped, the WHO will be compelled to downsize its staff in different countries," he said.
The United States is the biggest overall donor to the Geneva-based WHO, contributing more than $400 million in 2019, roughly 15 percent of its budget.
The hold on funding was expected. Trump has been increasingly critical of the organization as the global health crisis has continued, and he has reacted angrily to criticism of his administration's response.
The decision of halting funding drew criticism the world over.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said it was "not the time" to reduce resources for the World Health Organization (WHO).
Guterres said in a statement it was "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."
"Now is the time for unity and for the international community to work together in solidarity to stop this virus and its shattering consequences," he said.
Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates said that the US President Donald Trump's decision to withhold funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) pending a review of its handling of the coronavirus pandemic was "as dangerous as it sounds."
In a tweet on Wednesday, the Bill Gates said: "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."
American Medical Association President Dr Patrice Harris called it "a dangerous step in the wrong direction that will not make defeating COVID-19 easier" and urged Trump to reconsider.
Democratic Representative Nita Lowey, who heads the US House of Representatives Committee that sets government spending, said Trump was making a mistake.
"The coronavirus cannot just be defeated here in the United States, it has to be defeated in every conceivable location throughout the world," she said in a statement.
The Republican president recently accused the WHO of being too lenient with China in the earliest days of the crisis, despite having himself praised China in January for its response and transparency.