US Has Yet To Cut WHO Funding Despite Trump Move To "Terminate" Relationship

The Hill reports that as of the close of this week the United States still hasn't cut funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) despite President Trump controversially vowing to pull the plug on all US funding, which provides the bulk of the UN organization's budget. 

Trump made the "final" statement on May 29 amid widespread international criticism against the global health body for essentially being asleep at the wheel while the coronavirus outbreak rippled across the world. US officials have also repeatedly charged the WHO is in Beijing's pocket, which they say is the reason WHO leaders dithered while the disease raged in Wuhan, soon spreading far outside China's borders, before it was belatedly labeled a pandemic.

Right: WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom. Source: AFP/Bloomberg

The US president had stated: "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."

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had immediately urged the administration not the take the drastic action in the middle of a pandemic: "We regret the decision of the President of the United States to order a halt in funding to the World Health Organization," he said.

And now, as The Hill reports, "Two weeks later, no steps toward a formal withdrawal have been taken. A WHO spokesman told The Hill that the agency had received no formal notification that the United States would withdraw."

"Senior WHO officials said they continue their relationships with American agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH)," the report underscores. 

It's possible that Trump is under pressure from within his own administration as well as Republican allies not to ultimately sever funding. Perhaps the president was just content to score political points with his base in the shock announcement of two weeks ago. Or it's possibly the slowness of red tape when it comes to pulling the funding.

By far the largest single WHO funder, America's contribution is at about 15%, which approaches a billion dollars for the current two-year budge period.

Executive director of the WHO's health emergencies program, Mike Ryan, said there's been no change so far: "We rely heavily on our colleagues and institutions in the U.S. like CDC, like NIH and like the hundreds of collaborating centers that this organization has across the United States," Ryan said Monday. "We will continue to do that until we are otherwise instructed or informed."