United States initiates process to withdraw from WHO amidst COVID-19 pandemic

The Trump administration on Tuesday announced the withdrawal of the United States from the World Health Organization. President Donald Trump wrote to United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, notifying the pull back of the nation from the health agency. This move comes in tune with the president’s vow, which he took in May, to terminate America’s participation in the WHO.

President Trump has extensively criticized WHO in its response towards the Coronavirus pandemic and for “bowing to China’s influence”. In the month of May, he also threatened to cease the US funding to the WHO which summed to $400 million, the highest amount received by WHO from a nation.

The president has sent a formal notice to the UN Secretary General notifying its withdrawal which will take effect on July 6, 2021.

The UN Secretary General’s spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, quoted in a statement that the UN Chief is “in the process of verifying with the WHO whether all the conditions for such withdrawal are met”. 

This move by the United states has drawn criticism from a lot of people. The 2020 Presidential Candidate Joe Biden tweeted about this issue. “Americans are safer when America is engaged in strengthening global heath”, he said. He also assured that if elected as president, his first move would be to rejoin the WHO and restore the United States’ leadership on the world stage.

The republican senator, Lamar Alexander, also criticised this move by president Trump. “If the administration has specific recommendations for reforms of the WHO, it should submit those to the Congress and we can work together to make those happen”, he said. 

This move by Donald Trump yet again adds to the list of agencies from which the country has been pulled out by the government. After its withdrawal from UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in 2017 and the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2018, this is the third UN agency from which the US government is withdrawing the state. 

According to UN Dispatch, the United States also eliminated the funding for the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in the proposed budget in March, 2019. 

Critiques have also urged the United States to work on reform and not abandon the WHO. The president of the anti-poverty campaign ONE said that “withdrawing from the World Health Organization amidst an unprecedented global pandemic is an astounding action that puts the safety of all Americans and the world at risk”.

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