Ambassador Alina L. Romanowski Discusses WHO, COVID-19 and US-Kuwait Relations with Al-Anba Newspaper

  1. What’s the reason behind recent tensions between the US and WHO?

President Trump announced the withdrawal of the United States from the WHO because of  its mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic.  The WHO lacks the structure to ensure accurate information and transparent data sharing from members, which makes it vulnerable to misinformation and political influence. For example, the WHO decided on January 22 that the coronavirus did not pose a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, and put political correctness over life saving measures by opposing travel restrictions from China and other countries, leading to further spread of the virus internationally.  The WHO repeatedly parroted the Chinese government’s claims that the coronavirus was not spreading between humans, despite warnings by doctors and health officials that it was.

The United States continues to lead in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, as illustrated by U.S. foreign assistance made possible through the American people’s generosity and recent U.S. Government’s action.  The American people have given more than $11 billion to the global COVID-19 response, and continue to provide substantial funding of the scientific effort as part of the worldwide effort to combat  the disease.  Months into fighting this pandemic at home and abroad, the United States continues to lead the global response –building on decades of investment in public health and humanitarian programs.

  1. How different will the world be post-COVID? To what extent will the world balance of power be affected in light of predictions on disintegration of some regional and international blocs and alliances?

 COVID-19 will define this time in our lives and will leave an enduring mark in history.  However, it is up to us to define the next stage. One of the most important things that we can do is work together to reduce its spread and build the foundations of a strong post-COVID future.  Kuwait and the United States are both on the front lines doing exactly that and working to help others though life saving donations and support to those in need during COVID.  So far, the U.S. government has committed more than $1 billion towards COVID relief in over 120 countries.  The American people have given over $11 billion to benefit the global COVID response.

It is difficult to predict the future but whatever the future may hold, one thing is certain: Kuwait and the United States’ relationship is stronger than ever and will continue to grow.  This pandemic has opened new opportunities for cooperation in education, health care, community preparedness, e-learning, and doing business virtually.  Our shared security interests will always be a priority, as well.  We will continue to collaborate on customs and immigration procedures to improve security of Kuwait’s borders and work with Kuwait to maintain regional security and stability, including in Iraq.  We are also working together to ensure Kuwait cannot be used as a base for terrorist financing and attacks.  The United States will continue its strong cooperation with Kuwait on regional and bilateral issues, particularly with regards to Iran’s malign influence and its proxies, ending regional conflicts, and preserving the maritime security of the Gulf.  Together, the United States and Kuwait will continue to encourage positive steps between all parties in the GCC.  At a safe time, soon we all hope, we will move forward with the fourth U.S.-Kuwait Strategic Dialogue, an essential framework for our two countries.

  1. The US has been accused of “politicizing the Coronavirus.” Any comment

These are very challenging times, and COVID-19 has impacted the entire world.  More than anything, the United States’ priority is to mitigate the negative effects of the virus, including through research on this silent killer and by providing significant aid in COVID responses in over 120 countries.  We are so very grateful to have such a strong and dependable partner in Kuwait.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the U.S. Government has committed more than $1 billion in State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) emergency health, humanitarian, economic, and development assistance specifically aimed at helping governments, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) fight the pandemic. This funding, provided by Congress, will save lives by improving public health education; protecting healthcare facilities; and increasing laboratory, disease-surveillance, and rapid-response capacity in more than 120 countries.