Trump withdraws U.S. from World Health Organization

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President Donald Trump announced on Friday the United States would be terminating its relationship with the World Health Organization (WHO).

During an afternoon press conference, Trump criticized the agency, claiming, “China has total control over the [WHO], despite only paying $40 million per year compared to what the [U.S.] has been paying, which is approximately $450 million a year.

“We have detailed the reforms that it must make and engage with them directly, but they have refused to act,” he said. “Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will be today terminating our relationship with the [WHO] and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving, urgent, global public health needs.

“The world needs answers from China on the virus,” he added. “We must have transparency.”

The announcement comes after President Trump threatened to cut funding to the WHO earlier this month. The WHO’s funding runs in two-year budget cycles. For the 2018 and 2019 funding cycle, the U.S. paid a $237 million required assessment as well as $656 million in voluntary contributions, averaging $446 million a year and representing about 14.67 percent of its total budget, according to WHO representatives.

The WHO held a press conference yesterday responding to the announcement. During the briefing, WHO representatives explained much of the U.S. funding goes towards helping countries in “fragile and difficult settings.” Medical groups have also reacted noting the decision could have major global health implications.

"We'll obviously have to work with other partners to ensure those funds can still flow,” said Micheal Ryan, MD, executive director of the health emergencies programme, during the press conference. “This is going to be a major implication for delivering essential health services to some of the most vulnerable people in the world, and we trust developed donors will, if necessary, step in to fill that gap.”

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