Trump Announces U.S. To Terminate Relationship With WHO, Redirect Funds; E.U., Global Health Experts Call For Reconsideration, Warn Of Potential Impacts

Financial Times: Trump declaration to terminate WHO relationship puzzles experts
“Donald Trump’s announcement on Friday that the U.S. would break its ties with the World Health Organization was characteristically blunt. But it left diplomats and legal experts wondering how the president’s pledge would be put into practice. Mr. Trump said on Friday: ‘[The U.S.] 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.’ But he did not say exactly how, when or on what terms the U.S. would extricate itself from an organization of which it has been a member since 1948, let alone what the consequences might be for either side…” (Stacey/Manson, 5/29).

The Hill: European Union asks U.S. to reconsider decision to cut ties with WHO
“The European Union (E.U.) is asking the United States to reconsider its decision to cut ties with the World Health Organization (WHO). ‘In the face of this global threat, now is the time for enhanced cooperation and common solutions. Actions that weaken international results must be avoided,’ European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the E.U.’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said in a statement Saturday…” (Moreno, 5/30).

Nature: What a U.S. exit from the WHO means for COVID-19 and global health
“…Because the United States became a member of the WHO through a joint resolution in 1948, Trump might need congressional approval to exit the agency, says Jennifer Kates, the director of global health and HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington, D.C. But she adds that previous presidents were able to withdraw from treaties without Congress stepping in. ‘This is murky legal territory,’ she says. … Now, experts in health policy are contending with repercussions that could range from a resurgence of polio and malaria to barriers in the flow of information on COVID-19…” (Maxmen, 5/29).

Newsweek: GOP Congressman Says Trump’s Decision to Pull Out of WHO Helps China and Harms Global Health
“Texas Republican Congressman Will Hurd pleaded with President Donald Trump to reverse his Friday decision terminating the United States’ relationship with the World Health Organization (WHO), with the GOP lawmaker saying the move only helps the Chinese Communist Party. Hurd penned an op-ed in The New York Times Friday, just hours after Trump announced ‘China has total control’ over the WHO and cut off all funding to the international health body. The congressman cautioned that ‘leaving the WHO sends the message that the world cannot count on the United States,’ while corroborating China’s aggressive disinformation campaign that has been aimed, in part, at exposing America’s lack of commitment to the international community. Hurd wrote that while WHO made mistakes in its response to the coronavirus spread, walking away from the organization will make it much harder to prevent the spread of future disease across the globe…” (Fearnow, 5/30).

Roll Call: Trump going ahead with pulling the US back from the World Health Organization
“…The announcement, which came during what had been billed as a news conference but featured no opportunity to ask the president questions, followed previous threats from Trump and top administration officials. ‘China has total control over the World Health Organization, despite only paying $40 million per year, compared to what the United States has been paying, which is approximately $450 million a year,’ Trump asserted Friday during an event largely about U.S. policy toward Hong Kong. There were no immediate details about where the money would be redirected, with another payment to the WHO expected in September. However, national security adviser Robert O’Brien suggested a few potential beneficiaries when speaking to reporters at the White House last week…” (Lesniewski/Clason, 5/29).

STAT: Experts warn of dire global health consequences if U.S. withdraws from the World Health Organization
“An American withdrawal from the World Health Organization could wreak profound damage on the global effort to eradicate polio and could undermine the world’s ability to detect and respond to disease threats, health experts warned. The experts, from the United States and beyond, are aghast at President Trump’s announced intention to leave the organization, which he publicly blames for not being tougher on China in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic — at a time when he himself was praising China’s unprecedented efforts to control the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The agency has not yet commented on Trump’s announcement…” (Branswell, 5/30).

Additional coverage of Trump’s announcement and global reaction is available from AFP, Foreign Policy, The Hill, NBC News, Newsweek, NPR (2), Reuters (2), STAT, UPI, U.S. News, Washington Post (2), and Xinhua.

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