Trump Moves To Freeze WHO Funding Despite Warnings From U.S. Diplomats; Administration Officials Say Funds Could Be Diverted To Other Aid Groups

Bloomberg: World Health Body a Proxy in U.S.-China Clash
“The latest detente between Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping didn’t last long. After vowing last month to fight alongside Xi against the coronavirus, the U.S. president turned his anger [Tuesday] toward the World Health Organization and its ties with Beijing, announcing a temporary halt in funding for the global body. Trump said the WHO took China’s claims about Covid-19 ‘at face value’ and failed to share information about the pandemic. China defended its response and blasted Washington. The WHO’s loss of its biggest donor during a pandemic is unprecedented, and Trump’s announcement drew criticism from the likes of billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates and U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres. Infections are quickly heading toward the 2-million mark, with the U.S. now the epicenter of the outbreak…” (Pollard, 4/15).

The Hill: WHO’s diplomatic balancing act faces new challenge with Trump attacks
“President Trump’s attacks on the World Health Organization (WHO) over the coronavirus pandemic are shining a spotlight on the diplomatic balancing act the agency faces as it struggles to navigate the interests of member states that are often working at cross purposes. … [Some] experts say this pandemic has highlighted the fact that the WHO has few real powers. While it can use a megaphone to encourage member nations to take action, agency officials have almost no authority to enforce their guidance — especially when it comes to large nations like the United States or China…” (Wilson, 4/15).

New York Times: Urged On by Conservatives and His Own Advisers, Trump Targeted the WHO
“…[I]nside the West Wing, the president found little resistance among the China skeptics in his administration for lashing out at the WHO and essentially trying to shift the blame for his own failure to aggressively confront the spread of the virus by accusing the world’s premier global health group of covering up for the country where it started. Mr. Trump’s decision on Tuesday to freeze nearly $500 million in public money for the WHO in the middle of a pandemic was the culmination of a concerted conservative campaign against the group. But the president’s announcement on the WHO drew fierce condemnations from many quarters…” (Shear, 4/15).

ProPublica: Trump Administration Officials Warned Against Halting Funding to WHO, Leaked Memo Shows
“An internal memorandum written by U.S. officials and addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warns that cutting funding to the World Health Organization, as President Donald Trump said he would do Tuesday, would erode America’s global standing, threaten U.S. lives and hobble global efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic. The memo, which was prepared before Trump’s Rose Garden announcement, was written by officials within the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs and includes a detailed list of how U.S. funding to the WHO helps countries in the Middle East control the pandemic…” (Torbati, 4/15).

Reuters: U.S. funds that would have gone to WHO could be given to aid groups: Trump officials
“The United States could redirect to other aid groups some $400 million it would have paid the World Health Organization this year, senior Trump administration officials said on Wednesday after President Donald Trump halted funding for the U.N. agency over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic…” (Holland, 4/15).

Additional coverage of Trump’s freeze of WHO funding is available from ABC, Al Jazeera, The Guardian, NPR, POLITICO (2), Roll Call, and TIME.

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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