US officially withdrawing from WHO

US officially withdrawing from WHO
US officially started process to get out of WHO. source: Getty Images
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Daily US Times: The White House has officially notified Congress and the United Nations that the US is formally withdrawing from the World Health Organization (WHO), multiple officials confirmed it. The latest move comes amid a rising number of coronavirus cases throughout the Americas over the past week.

The withdrawal, which goes into effect next July, has drawn criticism from medical associations, advocacy organizations, bipartisan lawmakers and allies abroad. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden vowed Tuesday to reverse the decision “on (his) first day” if elected.

Sen. Robert Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee tweeted on Tuesday: “Congress received notification that POTUS officially withdrew the U.S. from the ⁦‪WHO⁩ in the midst of a pandemic. To call Trump’s response to COVID chaotic & incoherent doesn’t do it justice. This won’t protect American lives or interests—it leaves Americans sick & America alone.”

A State Department official also confirmed that “the US’ notice of withdrawal, effective July 6, 2021, has been submitted to the UN Secretary-General, who is the depository for the WHO.” The spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General said he had received the notice and “is in the process of verifying with the World Health Organization whether all the conditions for such withdrawal are met.” Those conditions “include giving a one-year notice and fully meeting the payment of assessed financial obligations.”

A source told CNN that letter addressed to the UN is very short, around three sentences and it triggers a one-year withdrawal timeline. However, this source also cautioned that they cannot confirm they saw the final version of the letter.

Among its current functions, the WHO is attempting to coordinate efforts to get personal safety and medical equipment, like ventilators, to hospitals around the world.

The president and CEO of the UN Foundation Elizabeth Cousens said the organization is “indispensable” in the fight against Covid-19.

Loyce Pace, president and executive director of Global Health Council, also echoed that point, saying: “Thousands of people have spoken, from health experts to heads of state and heroes on the frontlines: the world needs WHO. This move signals a dangerous gamble in the midst of a pandemic we have yet to conquer, and without a viable alternative to WHO.”

The World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva.Source: Getty Images

Some have warned that if the US withdraws itself in the current environment could also interfere with clinical trials essential for developing vaccines, as well as efforts to trace the spread of the virus globally.

‘Short-sighted, unnecessary, and unequivocally dangerous’

In mid-April, President Trump said he was halting funding to the organization and announced his intention to withdraw from the WHO in May after he said it “failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms.”

Trump had denounced the US’ contribution to the WHO — $400-500 million — in comparison to China’s and he consistently accused the organization of aiding China in allegedly covering up the origins of the virus and allowing its spread.

Lawmakers from both parties have long been citing systemic problems with the WHO, many of them have also denounced the President’s decision to withdraw during a once-in-a-century global pandemic.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – a top Democrat, called it “is an act of true senselessness” while Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said he disagreed with Trump’s decision.

Mr Alexander said: “If the administration has specific recommendations for reforms of the WHO, it should submit those recommendations to Congress, and we can work together to make those happen.”

Elizabeth Cousens called the decision “short-sighted, unnecessary, and unequivocally dangerous” and said that the US’ “ability to lead and shape an agenda for reform is drastically diminished when they step out of the field of play.”

She pointed to the WHO’s work in providing millions of diagnostic tests, tracking the virus’ spread across borders, distributing millions of pieces of personal protective equipment to medical facilities around the world, coordinating global efforts to develop a vaccine, … coordinating research among over 100 countries … along with all of the work that they do in low resource and more humanitarian settings.

The heads of the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, American Academy of Family Physicians and American College of Physicians condemned the move to withdraw from the WHO, saying in a statement that it “puts the health of our country at grave risk.”

In a joint statement, they said: “This dangerous withdrawal not only impacts the global response against COVID-19, but also undermines efforts to address other major public health threats.”

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