On Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the United States will pay the World Health Organization over $200 million that it reportedly owes the group.
Sec. Blinken reportedly made this announcement during a videoconference to the United Nations Security Council. In his remarks, Blinken said, “The United States will work with our partners across the globe to expand manufacturing and distribution capacity and to increase access, including to marginalized populations.” He added that the “United States will once again serve as a global health leader,” noting that the U.S. “believes that multilateralism, the United Nations, the World Health Organization are essential.”
Blinken said that while the COVID-19 crisis is still an “immediate challenge,” there is “a longer challenge, but equally vital, in establishing the strongest possible global health structure going forward.” He referred to news of a recent “Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Guinea,” saying there is “no time to waste.”
He detailed the United States’ involvement in global health, saying:
Over the past two decades, the United States has provided more than $140 billion in global health assistance. We’re now the single largest contributor to the international response to COVID-19.
Today, I’m pleased to confirm that by the end of the month the United States intends to pay over 200 million in assessed and current obligations to the WHO. This is a key step forward in fulfilling our financial obligations as a WHO member. And it reflects our renewed commitment to ensuring the WHO has the support it needs to lead the global response to the pandemic, even as we work to reform it for the future.
Blinken called on all countries to do their part, “and contribute to the COVID-19 response.” Speaking on the commitment that the United States has already made, Blinken continued, “We’ve already announced more than $1.6 billion in emergency economic, health, and humanitarian aid to try to help governments, international organizations, and NGOs mitigate the effects of COVID-19 and its secondary impacts worldwide. And that’s in addition to a commitment of $1.16 billion over fiscal years 2020 through 2023 to support Gavi’s broader immunization efforts.”
President Joe Biden reversed a decision of his predecessor to withdraw from the World Health Organization shortly after taking office.
According to CNBC:
In October, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he hoped the United States would reconsider its decision to leave the WHO, adding that the coronavirus can’t be defeated “in a divided world.”
“The problem is not about the money. It’s not the financing that’s the issue. It’s actually the relationship with the U.S. that’s more important and its leadership abroad,” Ghebreyesus told a virtual audience at the Aspen Security Forum.
Blinken added that countries must also “be held accountable for upholding their human rights obligations. No country should be allowed to use COVID-19 as an excuse to violate human rights or fundamental freedoms.”
The Secretary of State called on countries to combat any misinformation regarding vaccines, noting, “If we don’t, we seriously jeopardize our mission.”
Regarding current health crises and future ones, Blinken said that, “all countries must make available all data from the earliest days of any outbreak. And going forward, all countries should participate in a transparent and robust process for preventing and responding to health emergencies, so the world learns as much as possible as soon as possible.”