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US threatens to permanently cut off WHO funding

Published on 19/05/20 at 11:50am
Photo by U.S. Embassy, Jakarta

The US has threatened to permanently cut off funding to the World Health Organization if they do not take proposed reforms suggested by the Trump Administration.

President Trump wrote a letter to Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the WHO, saying that the organization had an “alarming lack of independence from the People’s Republic of China.”

Trump also wrote: “It is clear the repeated missteps by you and your organization in responding to the pandemic have been extremely costly for the world. The only way forward for the World Health Organization is if it can actually demonstrate independence from China. My administration has already started discussions with you on how to reform the organization. But action is need quickly.

“If the World Health Organization does not commit to any substantive improvements within the next 30 days, I will make my temporary freeze of United States funding to the World Health Organization permanent and reconsider our membership in the organization.”

It is not yet clear how Trump would completely stop funding the WHO, as the funds are appropriated through Congress. The President does not typically have the authority to act unilaterally in this regard.

The Trump administration requested to cut the amount of American funding for the WHO in February, from $122.6 million to $57.9 million.  It has historically been the largest funder of the WHO and provided it with $400 million in 2018-2019, which was just under 15% of its budget. In comparison, China only contributed $76 in this same period.

Last month, Trump announced the freeze to the US funding of the WHO due to its alleged bias towards China.

Conor Kavanagh

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