WHO officials worry emergency programs will suffer if US pulls funding

After President Donald Trump said he may pull U.S. funding for the World Health Organization,  agency officials voiced concern regarding WHO emergency programs during a May 20 news conference.  

President Trump has given the WHO 30 days to improve, or he will cut all funding, according to a May 18 tweet by the president. The tweet included a copy of a May 18 letter addressed to WHO's Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, criticizing the organization's response to the pandemic. 

"We have received the letter and are looking into it," Dr. Tedros said. 

Most funding from the U.S. goes directly to countries in "fragile and difficult settings," said Mike Ryan, MD, executive director of WHO's emergencies program.

"We'll obviously have to work with other partners to ensure those funds can still flow," Dr. Ryan said. "This is going to be a major implication for delivering essential health services to some of the most vulnerable people in the world, and we trust developed donors will, if necessary, step in to fill that gap."

U.S. funding for WHO was initially frozen April 14, pending an investigation. In 2019, the U.S. contributed about $553 million of the WHO's $6 billion budget, according to The New York Times.

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