The United States will complete its financial pledge to the World Health Organization (WHO), Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday, one day after President Donald Trump announced the country would be withdrawing from the organization, Fox News informed.
The U.S. submitted a notice of withdrawal to the United Nations security-general Tuesday, citing the WHO’s slow response to the coronavirus outbreak, coupled with its pro-China bias during the pandemic.
In order to formally withdraw from the WHO, the U.S. needs to provide at least one year’s notice and pay any remaining amounts pledged in full by the termination date set for July 2021 — a provision created by Congress as the WHO has no required guidelines on how a country can leave the organization.
According to records provided by the WHO, the U.S. reportedly still owes over $99 million to the organization from past pledges.
“We will work with Congress with respect to the appropriated funds,” Pompeo told reporters Wednesday. “We’ll get it right.”
The Department of State could not be immediately reached for verification on the figures owed.
“But the President has made very clear we are not going to underwrite an organization that has historically been incompetent and not performed its fundamental function,” Pompeo said.
President Trump first threatened to leave the WHO in May if it did not “commit to major substantive improvements” within a month of receiving a letter sent to WHO’s director-general — which Trump posted in a late night tweet.
“It is clear the repeated missteps by you and your organization in responding to the pandemic have been extremely costly for the world,” Trump wrote to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Pompeo also pointed to the handling of previous pandemics as another reason the U.S. has ultimately decided to withdraw from the organization.
“This is an institution that got it wrong on SARS, it got it wrong on Ebola,” Pompeo said. “The United States had to create its own system, PEPFAR, to do the work to prevent and come up with solutions to the HIV/AIDS problem.”
Some U.S. lawmakers voice their disapproval of Trump’s decision to withdraw from the organization in the midst of a health pandemic.