President Donald Trump has anounced the United States is severing all ties with the World Health Organization, three weeks ahead of a deadline he had announced earlier this month.
The announcement came during a speech he made in the White House Rose Garden, a speech that was mainly dedicated to lambasting China and their actions in Hong Kong, actions that have led the president to threaten sanctions. The president claims that “China has total control over” the WHO.
“We have detailed the reforms that it must make and engage with them directly, but they have refused to act because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms,” he explained.
“We will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organisation and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs.”
The president sent a letter to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO director general, on May 19th, in which he informed the organization that the U.S. would permanently cut its funding and reconsider its membership if the organization did “not commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days”.
The United States is the biggest funder to the WHO, paying about $450 million in membership fees and voluntary contributions. The decision to leave was announced just 10 days after the letter was sent.
Prior to this, the World Health assembly (WHA) of member states all agreed that there should be a thorough review of the WHO’s response to the global pandemic.
The U.S. had lobbied for Taiwan’s inclusion in the assembly as an observer, but European diplomats say that the efforts were half-hearted and that the country didn’t really try to make it happen.
This confirmed the suspicions of many in the WHO, and the U.S., that Trump was never actually intending to open a dialogue with the WHO, and left the organization purely for political purposes, as he has continually tried to place the blame of the pandemic’s impact on the U.S. on the WHO.
Chris Murphy, a Democratic Senator, posted about the situation on Twitter:
“It was never about reforming the WHO. That was all lies. It was always about distraction and scapegoating. Leaving castrates our ability to stop future pandemics and elevates China as the world’s go-to power on global health. What a nightmare.”
It was never about reforming the WHO. That was all lies. It was always about distraction and scapegoating.
Leaving castrates our ability to stop future pandemics and elevates China as the world's go-to power on global health.
What a nightmare.
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) May 29, 2020
The speech also came on a day in which cities across the country are reeling from protests and riots in response to the killing of George Floyd, yet Trump never mentioned these events in his speech. Instead, he chose to focus on China and criticizing the country, even though just yesterday, he tweeted a racist phrase about the situation.
It’s another move by the president that is clearly meant to be for his own politics and preparation for the upcoming elections in November. The global consequences of this decision could be incredibly damaging to our country’s ability to continue coping with the pandemic, and learn about any future health problems we could face.
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