WHO will get US-pledged funds before withdrawal, Pompeo says
The United States will fulfill its financial pledge to the World Health Organization (WHO), Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday, one day after Trump announced the U.S. would be withdrawing from the organization.
The U.S. submitted a notice of withdrawal to the United Nations security-general Tuesday, citing the WHO’s slow response to the coronavirus outbrea, coupled with its pro-China bias during the pandemic.
In order to formally withdraw from the WHO, the U.S. needs to provide at least one year’s notice and pay any remaining amounts pledged in full by the termination date set for July 2021 — a provision created by Congress as the WHO has no required guidelines on how a country can leave the organization.
According to records provided by the WHO, the U.S. reportedly still owes over $99 million to the organization from past pledges.
“We will work with Congress with respect to the appropriated funds,” Pompeo told reporters Wednesday. “We’ll get it right.”
The Department of State could not be immediately reached for verification on the figures owed.
“But the president has made very clear we are not going to underwrite an organization that has historically been incompetent and not performed its fundamental function,” Pompeo said.
President Trump first threatened to leave the WHO in May if it did not “commit to major substantive improvements” within a month of receiving a letter sent to WHO’s director-general — which Trump posted in a late night tweet.
“It is clear the repeated missteps by you and your organization in responding to the pandemic have been extremely costly for the world,” Trump wrote to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The exact changes that President Trump needed to see were not listed in the letter.
Trump cited a pro-China bias in the WHO’s handling of the pandemic, though the president also initially praised China’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Pompeo also pointed to the handling of previous pandemics as another reason the U.S. has ultimately decided to withdraw from the organization.
“This is an institution that got it wrong on SARS, it got it wrong on Ebola,” Pompeo said. “The United States had to create its own system, PEPFAR, to do the work to prevent and come up with solutions to the HIV/AIDS problem.”
Some U.S. lawmakers voices their disproval of Trump’s decision to withdrawal from the organization in the midst of health pandemic.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the infectious disease specialist who serves on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, has also previously voiced his support for the WHO.
He said in an interview with CBC in June that “The WHO is an imperfect organization. It certainly has made some missteps, but it has also done a lot of good. The world needs a WHO.”
House Democrats have reportedly called for restoring full funding measures to the WHO in their 2021 budget, according to The Hill.