Governors Say 'No Way' to Biden Plans To Empower Pro-China Health Organization

Gov. Kristi Noem: Power over personal health choices 'is not President Biden's to give away'

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom and Chinese president Xi Jinping / Getty Images
May 25, 2022

Republican governors Ron DeSantis (Fla.), Glenn Youngkin (Va.), and Kristi Noem (S.D.) denounced the Biden administration's proposed amendments to the World Health Organization's International Health Regulations.

"We in Florida, there is no way we will ever support this WHO thing," DeSantis said Monday. "No way."

The amendments would change WHO's surveillance methods, allowing the organization to "develop early warning criteria for assessing and progressively updating the national, regional, or global risk posed by an event of unknown causes or sources." WHO would provide member nations with assessments that indicate "the level of risk of potential spread and risks of potential serious public health impacts, based on assessed infectiousness and severity of the illness."

The amendments would also change how WHO determines public health emergencies. While the previous regulations task the organization's director-general and each member nation with determining a crisis, the amendments delegate that power solely to the director-general. The amendments also allow the director-general to issue an intermediate public health alert if he deems that a crisis requires international awareness, even if it doesn't meet international public health emergency standards.

DeSantis is not the only governor wary of the amendments.

"South Dakota will continue to trust our people to exercise personal responsibility over their health," Noem said in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon. "That power is not President Biden's to give away—the 10th Amendment reserves it for the states and for the people."

A spokeswoman for Youngkin called the Biden administration's plans "incredibly concerning" and said "giving WHO sovereignty over U.S. health decisions" is "not something Governor Youngkin condones or supports."

WHO has a history of working against U.S. interests. Under the leadership of Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the organization repeatedly allowed the Communist regime in China to hold sway over official health decisions. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, WHO followed Beijing's lead and falsely claimed for weeks that human-to-human transmission was unconfirmed. A top WHO official in July 2020 promoted an anti-Taiwan conspiracy theory about the virus. Under former president Donald Trump, the United States withdrew from the organization, but President Joe Biden reversed Trump's decision.

Delegates from almost 200 countries have gathered this month in Geneva, Switzerland, for the 75th World Health Assembly, where they are discussing the changes.

Member nations are allowed to reject WHO's emergency assistance, but they must alert WHO of their rationale within 48 hours of the rejection.

The Biden administration's proposals would establish "compliance committees" in each member country to gather information and promote compliance with regulations.

Members hope to establish a new pandemic agreement in addition to the International Health Regulations, which legally bind countries to detect and report potential health threats. If approved, these amendments are not expected to take effect until 2024.

In his Monday remarks to the World Health Assembly, a meeting of WHO's legislative body, Health and Human Services director of global affairs Loyce Pace said the United States is pleased "with the consensus reached this week on concrete action and further work to strengthen existing tools available to the WHO and to all Member States."

"This includes strengthening the International Health Regulations from 2005 to clarify roles and responsibilities, increase transparency and accountability, share best practices, and communicate in real-time with our global partners," Pace said.

Member nations have until August to decide on initial drafts of the amendments.

Update 10:53 p.m.: This piece has been updated to include comment from Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R., Va.).