The US Formally Announced Its Withdrawal From The World Health Organization

August 21, 2020

The United States has formally confirmed its intention to withdraw from the World Health Organization (WHO) on July 6, 2021.

The WHO is the United Nations agency dedicated to coordinating international public health efforts, including the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. U.S. President Donald Trump first said in May that he would withdraw from the U.S. if certain conditions were not met within 30 days. The actual project to decouple the U.S. from WHO began with a letter signed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday (July 6). It will take a year for it to take effect. (By law, the U.S. must notify WHO a year in advance before withdrawing, according to The New York Times).

Public health experts, as well as Republicans and Democrats in Congress, have condemned the move. Democratic nominee Joe Biden said that if elected president, he would reverse the decision before it takes effect.

Elizabeth Cousins, president of the United Nations Foundation, a private organization that promotes the interests of the United Nations, called the move “short-sighted, unnecessary, and unequivocally dangerous,” in a statement. WHO is the only agency with the capacity to lead and coordinate a global response to COVID-19. Ending the U.S. relationship would undermine the global effort to defeat this virus and put us all at risk.”

“The U.S. already has more confirmed cases of COVID-19 than any other country in the world, and as cases continue to surge in hotspots at home and abroad, it is painfully clear that the epidemic is far from over,” said Cousens.” It is now more urgent than ever to ensure that WHO has the support and resources it needs to continue its life-saving work.”

The WHO has faced some criticism over its response to the epidemic and has agreed to an independent review of its decisions and policies.STAT News reported that Trump specifically criticized the WHO for not applying inspectors to China in the early stages of the crisis, but the WHO does not have that authority. He also criticized the WHO for praising China’s response – in the meantime.

As the United States endures the world’s worst epidemic, the Trump administration’s decision-making, messaging and policies on COVID-19 have come under sharp criticism, with it largely blaming the WHO, China and Democratic governors.

According to the Bureau of Statistics, the U.S. is the largest funder of the WHO, responsible for $426 million, or about $1.30 per U.S. resident, annually during the 2018-2019 budget period, but the U.S. is in arrears on its dues and owes $203 million in back payments. Stats also reported that UN officials are somewhat confused about what the withdrawal actually means for U.S. support and participation in the organization.