Trump administration officials said during a press briefing Wednesday that the U.S. was continuing to take steps towards formally withdrawing from the World Health Organization (WHO) but was open to offering limited help in certain instances.
“There may be instances in the future when the United States wishes to participate in particular meetings of the WHO’s governing bodies and technical and advisory committees where we believe American interests need to be represented,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs Nerissa Cook. “We will consider those instances on a case-by-case basis.”
The Trump administration cut off funding to the WHO in mid-April and later announced in July that the U.S. would formally withdraw from the organization July 6, 2021. President Donald Trump offered to reverse the decision if the WHO committed to “major substantive improvements,” but no such commitment was made.
“This step was taken after the president gave the WHO the opportunity to embrace crucial reforms; most notably, to demonstrate its independence from the Chinese Communist Party,” Cook told reporters. (RELATED: China Pressured WHO Against Declaring Coronavirus Global Health Emergency)
Administration officials said withdrawal from the WHO would not diminish American leadership on global health affairs.
“The U.S. is the most generous funder of global health activities and has been for decades, with extensive partnerships all around the world working in every issue area,” said Department of Health and Human Services global affairs director Garrett Grigsby.
“Since 2001, the U.S. government has contributed more than $142 billion to help prevent, detect and treat HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, ebola and other dangerous diseases and conditions,” added USAID global health bureau’s assistant administrator Alma Golden.
Golden also told reporters the U.S. would double its financial contribution in the global response to COVID-19.
“USAID is determined to make sure that our withdrawal from the WHO does not affect the level of our overall health assistance to the most vulnerable,” she said.
The remarks from Trump administration officials indicate that limited institutional engagement will continue between the U.S. and the WHO until formal withdrawal next year. (RELATED: Should The WHO Face Consequences Over COVID-19? We Asked Their Health Tech Expert)
“Our priority will be events and processes of a normative, regulatory and standard-setting basis that have a direct impact on Americans, on U.S. national security, on U.S. economic interests, U.S. companies and the U.S. government’s global health investments,” Golden told reporters.