WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Tuesday announced the United States will end its relationship with the World Health Organization effective Friday, accusing the organization of caving to pressure from China and criticizing its handling of the Coronavirus pandemic.
“The world needs answers from China on the virus,” Trump said in a statement at the White House. “We must have transparency.”
“We have detailed the reforms that it must make and engaged 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 World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs.”
In previous remarks Trump said that China had not properly reported information it had about the Covid-19 virus to the World Health Organization and said China had pressured the WHO to “mislead the world.”
“Chinese officials ignored their reporting obligations to the World Health Organization and pressured the World Health Organization to mislead the world when the virus was first discovered by Chinese authorities,” Trump said. “Countless lives have been taken and profound economic hardship has been inflicted all around the globe.”
The president’s decision to withdraw the United States from the World Health Organization was met with criticism from both the left and right.
“To call Trump’s response to COVID chaotic & incoherent doesn’t do it justice. This won’t protect American lives or interests — it leaves Americans sick & America alone,” Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, tweeted after the president’s announcement.
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who heads the American Medical Association’s chamber’s health committee, warned Trump “in the strongest possible terms” to reverse the decision.
“I disagree with the president’s decision,” Alexander said in a released statement. “Certainly there needs to be a good, hard look at mistakes the World Health Organization might have made in connection with Coronavirus, but the time to do that is after the crisis has been dealt with, not in the middle of it. Withdrawing U.S. membership could, among other things, interfere with clinical trials that are essential to the development of vaccines, which citizens of the United States as well as others in the world need. And withdrawing could make it harder to work with other countries to stop viruses before they get to the United States.”
Many conservatives, however, praised the president’s decision, calling out the organization not only for its treatment of China but also its record of support for pro-abortion organizations.
“I am proud that our country will no longer be sending taxpayer dollars to support this radical regime,” said Allan Parker, president of The Justice Foundation, a pro-life legal group. “True, life-saving health measures can be funded through other organzations without an abortion agenda.”