Accusing the World Health Organization of protecting China during the coronavirus pandemic, President Trump said Friday that the U.S. would sever its relationship with the agency.
“We will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs,” Trump announced in the White House Rose Garden. “The world needs answers from China on the virus.”
Earlier this month, Trump announced a temporary funding halt for the WHO, and threatened a permanent withdrawal if it did not "commit to major substantive improvements in the next 30 days."
Trump has repeatedly criticized the WHO for its response to the coronavirus pandemic, alleging that the organization pushed misinformation from China and allowed Beijing to exert control over the United Nations health agency. Critics said Trump was blatantly trying to shift blame for his administration’s own failures in halting the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S., where it has resulted in more than 100,000 deaths so far.
Currently, the U.S. provides about 15% of the WHO’s roughly $2.3 billion annual budget, or about $450 million per year. It’s not clear, however, that Trump can end U.S. funding for the health organization without the intervention of Congress, which controls the power of the federal purse.
Mike Ryan, the Irish doctor who leads the emergencies program at the agency, said the funding loss would be difficult, but hoped to find the money from other nations. “[T]his is going to have major implications for delivering essential health services to some of the most vulnerable people in the world,” Ryan told Stat News, “and we trust that other donors will if necessary step in to fill that gap.”