Trump Administration Notifies U.N. Of U.S. Withdrawal From WHO; Move Draws Concern, Criticism From Lawmakers, Global Health Experts

AP: U.S. notifies U.N. of withdrawal from World Health Organization
“The Trump administration has formally notified the United Nations of its withdrawal from the World Health Organization, although the pullout won’t take effect until next year, meaning it could be rescinded under a new administration or if circumstances change. Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said he would reverse the decision on his first day in office if elected. The withdrawal notification makes good on President Donald Trump’s vow in late May to terminate U.S. participation in the WHO, which he has harshly criticized for its response to the coronavirus pandemic and accused of bowing to Chinese influence. The move was immediately assailed by health officials and critics of the administration, including numerous Democrats who said it would cost the U.S. influence in the global arena…” (Lee, 7/7).

Devex: U.N. chief reviewing whether U.S. has met conditions for WHO withdrawal
“United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres is currently reviewing whether the U.S. has met the conditions for withdrawal from the World Health Organization, after the White House submitted its formal notification to do so on Monday, according to the U.N. chief’s spokesperson. … The U.S. has been party to the World Health Organization since June 21, 1948, and its participation was accepted by the World Health Assembly — the organization’s decision-making body — with ‘certain conditions set out by the US for its eventual withdrawal from the World Health Organization,’ Stéphane Dujarric, spokesperson for the secretary-general, wrote to Devex. Those conditions include giving a one-year notice of intent to withdraw and fully meeting the payment of assessed financial obligations, he added…” (Igoe, 7/7).

Newsweek: Top Republican Breaks with Trump on WHO Exit, Says it Could Harm Vaccine Trials
“Senator Lamar Alexander, a top Republican who chairs the Senate health committee, broke with Donald Trump on Tuesday to criticize the president’s decision to withdraw the United States from the World Health Organization amid a global pandemic. ‘I disagree with the president’s decision,’ the Tennessee lawmaker said in a statement. ‘Certainly, there needs to be a good, hard look at mistakes the World Health Organization might have made in connection with coronavirus, but the time to do that is after the crisis has been dealt with, not in the middle of it’…” (Touchberry, 7/7).

STAT: Trump administration submits formal notice of withdrawal from WHO
“…The withdrawal of the United States would plunge global health governance into the unknown, creating questions about the economic viability of the WHO, the future of the polio eradication program, the system for reporting dangerous infectious disease outbreaks, and myriad other programs that are as pertinent to the health of Americans as they are to people from countries around the world, such as efforts to combat the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria…” (Branswell, 7/7).

Wall Street Journal: Trump Moves to Pull U.S. Out of World Health Organization in Midst of Covid-19 Pandemic
“…The U.S. is the single largest donor to the WHO, giving about $450 million a year, much of it earmarked for specific diseases such as polio, which has nearly been eradicated. A U.S. exit would eliminate that funding going forward and leave the WHO more dependent on private donors, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, its second-largest contributor. It would accelerate a shift in which global health increasingly relies on a handful of billionaire donors and charities, with national governments reluctant to offer more taxpayer funds, public health experts have said. The withdrawal would also reinforce a sense among Western leaders that the U.S. is retreating from the U.N. system while China grows in influence. Authorities in France, Japan, and Australia shared Mr. Trump’s frustration that the WHO was too quick to praise China in the early weeks of the Covid-19 pandemic, and in May more than 150 governments backed a proposal to audit the agency’s perceived failures…” (Hinshaw/Armour, 7/7).

Washington Post: Trump administration sends letter withdrawing U.S. from World Health Organization over coronavirus response
“…A group of more than 700 experts on global public health and law on June 30 called on Congress to push back against the plan, warning that ‘cutting funding to the WHO during a global pandemic would be a dangerous action for global health and U.S. national interests.’ The letter, which was signed by former directors of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the executive director of the American Public Health Association, the president of the National Academy of Medicine, and university presidents and deans, said a U.S. pullout ‘will likely cost lives, American and foreign’…” (Rauhala et al., 7/7).

Additional coverage of the Trump administration’s withdrawal from WHO is available from ABC, AP, Axios, Bloomberg Law, CIDRAP News, CNN, Fox News, The Guardian, The Hill (2) (3), NBC News, NPR (2), The Telegraph, USA TODAY, VOA News, Wall Street Journal.

The KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report summarized news and information on global health policy from hundreds of sources, from May 2009 through December 2020. All summaries are archived and available via search.

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