President Trump announced Friday that the U.S. will sever its financial ties to the World Health Organization (WHO), claiming the organization failed to implement requested reforms and was receiving an unfair proportion of its funding from the U.S.
“We have detailed the reforms that it must make and engaged with them directly, but they have refused to act,” Trump said. “Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will be today terminating our relationship … and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs.”
The president froze American funding to the WHO in April as a temporary measure, threatening in a letter to WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus to make it permanent and to reconsider membership if the organization did not “commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days.” The letter also criticized some WHO statements about the coronavirus, calling them “either grossly inaccurate or misleading.”
Trump said the decision to end funding was also motivated by the disparity between U.S. and Chinese funding for the organization. He claimed that China has “total control over the WHO” although it only provides about $40 million annually, a small fraction of the U.S. contribution.
The WHO receives both annual membership dues from its member states and voluntary funding from countries and organizations. In the last two years, the U.S. led in both total dues ($236.9 million) and total voluntary contributions ($656.1 million). China, by contrast, paid $75.8 million in membership payments and $10.2 million in voluntary funding.
It is not clear how the administration will unwind U.S. financial ties with the WHO. The Congress does not appropriate funding specifically for the WHO in appropriations acts, so the executive branch has some flexibility in deciding if the organization receives U.S. support, according to the Congressional Research Service. — James Miessler