The US Government says it will not pay its outstanding 2020 membership due of $62 million (N23.6 billion) to the World Health Organisation.
Rather, the money will be diverted to other contributions to the United Nations, according to a senior official of the Department of State, Nerissa Cook.
Cook, who is the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organisation Affairs, disclosed this during a virtual news briefing on Wednesday evening.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the briefing centred on the US Government’s next steps with regard to its withdrawal from WHO.
The official said the US had already paid about $52 million (N19.8 billion) to WHO as of the time President Donald Trump announced suspension of funding to the organisation in April.
She said: “The US is assessed at 22 per cent of the WHO regular budget, totaling more than $100 million (N38 billion) a year.
“For fiscal year 2020, the US assessment was just over $120 million (N45.7 billion) of which $58 million had already been contributed at the time of the president’s April decision to suspend additional funding.
“Today, we are announcing the remaining portion of the 2020 assessment, slightly more than $62 million will be reprogrammed to the UN to pay other assessments.”
In July, the UN said the country must fulfill the conditions for withdrawal from WHO, including full financial obligations.
However, Cook said before the withdrawal on July 6, 2021, the US Government would continue to participate in particular meetings of WHO.
She said her country would take part where it believed that America’s interests needed to be represented.
Two other officials at the briefing announced one-time contributions by the US to specific voluntary programmes it implements in partnership with WHO.
These programmes include polio eradication projects in Afghanistan and Pakistan, humanitarian relief in Libya and Syria and efforts to combat influenza.
Garrett Grigsby, a Director in the Department of Health and Human Services, said $40 million (N15 billion) would be provided in the programme areas of immunisation and influenza.
Grigsby said those activities were critical to the health and security of Americans, but for which US had no immediate alternative partners.
Speaking in similar vein, Dr. Alma Golden of the US Agency for International Development announced a one-time disbursement of $68 million (N25.9 billion) to WHO.
Golden explained that the funding would support humanitarian health assistance in Libya and Syria as well as efforts to eradicate polio in priority countries.
NAN reports that the announcements came a day after the Trump administration said it would not participate in COVAX, a WHO-run project to develop and equitably distribute COVID-19 vaccines worldwide.
No fewer than 150 countries, including Nigeria, are participating in COVAX, which stands for Vaccines Global Access Facility.
It would be recalled that in May, Trump announced his decision to pull out the US from WHO and redirect its contributions and other global health resources to other partners.
The president accused the global health agency of being a puppet to China, an accusation it denied.
Trump said he took the decision after WHO spurned his demand for crucial reforms, demonstrating its independence from the China.
On July 6, the US Government through the Secretary of State Michael Pompeo formally notified the UN of its decision to withdraw with effect from July 6, 2021.