Ending months of denunciations of the World Health Organization by President Donald Trump over what he said was its failure to promptly alert the world to the dangers of the coronavirus, the Trump administration on Tuesday formally served notice of its plan to withdraw from the WHO.
A notice explaining the intent of the U.S. to withdraw was delivered to United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, and a spokesman for Guterres confirmed to Fox News that it had been received.
The White House also notified Congress that the U.S. will leave the WHO effective July 2021, Fox reported.
The move drew swift condemnation from Democrats and supporters of global health initiatives:
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) July 7, 2020
Congress received notification that POTUS officially withdrew the U.S. from the @WHO in the midst of a pandemic.
To call Trump’s response to COVID chaotic & incoherent doesn’t do it justice. This won’t protect American lives or interests—it leaves Americans sick & America alone.
— Senator Bob Menendez (@SenatorMenendez) July 7, 2020
Elizabeth Cousens, president of the United Nations Foundation, said in a statement that the “move to formally withdraw from the W.H.O. amid the greatest public health crisis that Americans and the world have faced in a century is shortsighted, unnecessary, and unequivocally dangerous,” according to The New York Times.
The action is “among the most ruinous presidential decisions in recent history,” Lawrence Gostin, director of the WHO’s Collaborating Center on National & Global Health Law, told The Times.
“It will make Americans less safe during an unprecedented global health crisis,” he said. “And it will significantly weaken U.S. influence on W.H.O. reform and international health diplomacy. This disastrous action is deeply damaging to U.S. national interests.”
Some supported the president, who has been critical of the WHO for months, saying that the organization did China’s bidding in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak instead of protecting the rest of the world:
If an organization is going to cover up and lie about another country’s cover up’s and lies, why should we be party to such corruption? Withdrawing from the @WHO is an important action in accountability for our country and for all countries who’ve suffered due to COVID. https://t.co/AoMCxs2pNc
— Rep Rick Crawford (@RepRickCrawford) July 7, 2020
The United States has finally, OFFICIALLY withdrawn from the World Health Organization
RT if we should withdraw from the United Nations next!!
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) July 7, 2020
In May, Trump made his disdain for the WHO and China clear, and telegraphed Tuesday’s formal action.
“The world is now suffering as a result of the malfeasance of the Chinese government,” Trump said.
“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,” the president added.
“We have detailed the reforms that it must make and engaged with them directly, but they have refused to act,” Trump said at the time.
“Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we 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.”
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