HomeWashington Letter2020 ▶ Trump Administration Acts to Withdraw U.S. from WHO
Trump Administration Acts to Withdraw U.S. from WHO

This week, the Trump Administration began steps to withdraw the U.S. from the World Health Organization (WHO) through formal communications to the WHO Secretary-General. The Administration’s action does not serve to immediately withdraw the U.S. from WHO membership, but it does initiate the start of a 12-month process for doing so. But it is unclear whether the Administration can complete the withdrawal process if Congress continues to pay the U.S.’s annual dues of about $57 million annually and additional voluntary annual contributions of about $400 million. Congress has thus far not indicated any interest in withdrawing the U.S. from WHO or in halting U.S. funding to the organization. Some Republican senators, such as Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), have stated opposition to withdrawing the U.S. from WHO.

In a statement expressing opposition to the Trump Administration’s action, ATS President Juan C. Celedón, MD, DrPH, said, “For over 70 years, the WHO has been an essential partner for the U.S. in global efforts against emerging infectious diseases such as COVID-19, tuberculosis and other public health threats, including tobacco use.” Dr. Celedon continued, “Withdrawing the U.S. from the WHO during an ongoing global pandemic is a catastrophic mistake. The ATS urges the Administration to reverse this action. Further, we urge the U.S. Congress to ensure appropriation of the U.S. Government’s annual funding dues and voluntary contributions to the World Health Organization, as well as continued engagement with the WHO."

Last Reviewed: July 2020