WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday said he is terminating the U.S. relationship with the World Health Organization, making good on his threat to withdraw from the U.N. health agency he’s blamed for mishandling the coronavirus pandemic.
“We will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and directing those funds to worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs,” Trump said in a statement from the White House Rose Garden.
Trump last month temporarily froze U.S funding to the WHO, contending the organization botched the international response to the pandemic and has been overly deferential to China. The U.S has previously contributed over $400 million per year to WHO’s $4.8 billion annual budget, more than any other country.
Trump sent a letter earlier this month to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, threatening to make the funding free permanent if the organization did not make “substantive changes” in the next 30 days. The letter did not detail requested reforms.
WHO has been organizing worldwide vaccine and drug trials against the novel virus.
The move was instantly criticized by public health experts, who said it made little sense to cut off the group’s funding amid a pandemic that’s still raging.
“We helped create WHO,” Tom Frieden, who led the CDC under the Obama administration, wrote on Twitter. “We are part of it. It is part of the world. Turning our back on WHO makes us and the world less safe.”