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Millions-of-US-dollar funding cancelled by the US for World Health Organization

16:38 | 04/09/2020

President Trump’s administration is reassigning the Department of Health and Human Services officials detailed to the World Health Organization, on Thursday announced what it described as the “next steps” in the U.S, redirecting American funding to other organizations as he cuts ties with the global health agency.

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millions of us dollar funding cancelled by the us for world health organization
President Trump announced in May that the U.S. would withdraw from the organization.

President Trump announced in May that the U.S. would withdraw from the controversial organization over its failure to enact reforms in the agency's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as what the president called its pro-China bias.

The withdrawal from WHO "becomes effective on July 6, 2021, and since the president’s announcement, the U.S. government has been working to identify partners to assume the activities previously undertaken by WHO,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said Thursday. “U.S. participation in WHO technical meetings and events will be determined on a case-by-case basis.”

The U.S. is now on track to complete its withdrawal by July of next year. As part of that move, the State Department announced on Thursday a “redirection” of resources that includes moving the remaining Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 contributions to the WHO to partially pay for other U.N. contributions.

In addition, through July 2021, the United States will scale down its engagement with the WHO, to include recalling the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) detailees from WHO headquarters, regional offices and country offices, and "reassigning these experts,”.

Trump’s withdrawal amounts to a $62 million loss for the WHO, which was slated to receive $120 million in the 2020 fiscal year from the United States. WHO officials collected just $58 million of that funding before the president froze the funding in response to the WHO leadership’s amplification of false information about China’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The WHO needs to reform, and that is starting with demonstrating its independence from the Chinese Communist Party,” the State Department’s Nerissa Cook, a senior official in the U.S. International Organization Affairs Bureau, told reporters Wednesday. “And it needs to make improvements in its ability to prepare for, to prevent, to detect, and to respond to outbreaks of dangerous pathogens.”, according to the washingtonexamine.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has alleged that China managed to corrupt the senior leadership of the WHO, reportedly telling British lawmakers recently that “a deal was made” that prevented WHO from sounding the alarm at a time when China was censoring early warnings about the emerging virus. Preliminary investigations have also shown that the WHO applauded China’s transparency about the pandemic even while privately fretting that Beijing was not handing over necessary information.

millions of us dollar funding cancelled by the us for world health organization
The logo of the World Health Organization is seen at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus, file)

Still, the mid-pandemic withdrawal has drawn sharp criticism from Western allies and public health analysts. But U.S. officials maintain that it will force reforms at the agency that will diminish the potential for malign political influence to undermine international responses to public health crises.

“The U.S. has traditionally been, I think since the very beginning, the largest donor to WHO,” the Department of Health and Human Services’ Garrett Grigsby said. “We actually do have quite a bit of leverage, and if they’re interested in seeing the United States stay, they will take that seriously and negotiate seriously.”

Pompeo and other American officials also have emphasized that the U.S. can provide American public health aid through entities that have not been suborned by China, and HHS officials plan to continue giving as much as $40 million to WHO programs.

“On the China issue, our view is that the WHO needs to be independent in its processes and procedures in dealing with pandemics,” she said. “So we are advocating for greater transparency and greater accountability. And we want to see speedier and higher quality of communications in the face of pandemics. We want decision-making to be based on science and not on other considerations. And we want to see very strong management and a focus on the prevention and detection and response to pandemics.”

The Trump administration had raised concerns about WHO officials' praise of Chinese "transparency," its ignoring of warnings about the virus from Taiwan, and its repetition of Chinese claims that COVID-19 could not be spread from person-to-person. Trump has also pointed to opposition from WHO officials to his decision to place a travel ban on China in the initial days of the crisis, the foxnews reported.

"Chinese officials ignored their reporting obligations to the World Health Organization and pressured the World Health Organization to mislead the world when the virus was first discovered by Chinese authorities," Trump said in May. "Countless lives have been taken and profound economic hardship has been inflicted across the globe."

US refuses to pay millions in WHO dues ahead of withdrawal

millions of us dollar funding cancelled by the us for world health organization
WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the opening of the 72nd World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland. May 20, 2019. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone / AP)

The United States is refusing to pay some $80 million in dues to the World Health Organisation (WHO), saying the money will be redirected to help pay its United Nations bill in New York.

The United States announced its plan to leave the WHO after President Donald Trump accused the organisation of becoming a puppet for China during the coronavirus pandemic.

The formal withdrawal notice, which won’t take effect until next year, was sent to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on July 6, 2020.

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