Trump Suspends U.S. Payments To WHO Amid COVID-19 Pandemic; World Leaders, Health Experts Decry Move

AP: Trump directs halt to payments to WHO during virus pandemic
“President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he was cutting off U.S. payments to the World Health Organization during the coronavirus pandemic, accusing the organization of failing to do enough to stop the virus from spreading when it first surfaced in China. Trump, who had telegraphed his intentions last week, claimed the outbreak could have been contained at its source and that lives could have been saved had the U.N. health agency done a better job investigating the early reports coming out of China…” (Superville, 4/14).

Devex: World calls Trump’s funding freeze to WHO ‘foolish,’ ‘dangerous’
“World leaders and influential global health figures have raised concerns against U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to freeze funding to the World Health Organization amid the coronavirus pandemic. In a tweet, former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said the U.S. decision to defund WHO is ‘disastrous,’ arguing the organization is not responsible for a president ignoring advice on COVID-19 measures. … Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said Trump’s actions are an attempt to take away attention from his lack of preparedness in the U.S. … Billionaire-philanthropist Bill Gates said Trump’s decision, taken in the middle of a global health crisis, ‘is as dangerous as it sounds’…” (Ravelo, 4/15).

The Hill: U.N. head responds to Trump: ‘Not the time’ to reduce funds for WHO
“United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Tuesday pushed back on President Trump’s announcement that the U.S. will pull funding to the World Health Organization (WHO), saying the coronavirus pandemic is ‘not the time’ for such a move. In a statement, Guterres said it was ‘not the time to reduce the resources for the operations of the World Health Organization or any other humanitarian organization in the fight against the virus’…” (Budryk, 4/14).

Science: ‘Short sighted.’ Health experts decry Trump’s freeze on U.S. funding for WHO as world fights pandemic
“…Trump did not specify how much money he intends to put on hold. In WHO’s 2-year, 2018-19 budget cycle, the U.S. was the largest single donor, providing almost $900 million of WHO’s $5.6 billion budget. In general, the White House can delay disbursing money already appropriated by Congress for a specific purpose, but must get approval from Congress to cancel such spending outright. Trump may be able to divert some of the funds appropriated to WHO to other similar purposes without getting express permission from Congress. It would likely be difficult for the White House to reclaim money already sent to WHO. Still, Trump’s action could significantly hamper the world’s fight against COVID-19, says Lawrence Gostin, director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University…” (Kupferschmidt/Cohen, 4/14).

Additional coverage of Trump’s suspension of funding for WHO and global reaction is available from Axios, Bloomberg, CNBC, CNN, Devex, Fox News, France 24, The Guardian, The Hill (2), Newsweek, New York Magazine, NPR, POLITICO, Reuters (2) (3) (4) (5) (6), STAT, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post.

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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