Ignoring outrage, Trump makes good on WHO pullout
General view during a press conference of the World Health Organization (WHO) organised by the Geneva Association of United Nations Correspondents (ACANU) amid the COVID-19 outbreak, caused by the novel coronavirus, on July 3, 2020 at the WHO headquarters in Geneva.
AFP/Fabrice Coffrini, Pool
Ignoring outrage, Trump makes good on WHO pullout
Shaun Tandon (Agence France-Presse) - July 8, 2020 - 8:43am

WASHINGTON, United States — President Donald Trump on Tuesday formally started the withdrawal of the United States from the World Health Organization, making good on threats to deprive the UN body of its top funding source over its response to the coronavirus.

Public health advocates and Trump's political opponents voiced outrage at the departure from the Geneva-based body, which leads the global fight on maladies from polio to measles to mental health — as well as COVID-19, at a time when cases have again been rising around the world.

After threatening to suspend the $400 million in annual US contributions and then announcing a withdrawal, the Trump administration has formally sent a notice to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, a State Department spokesperson said.

The withdrawal of the key WHO founding member is effective in one year — July 6, 2021. Joe Biden, Trump's presumptive Democratic opponent in November elections, vowed he would immediately end the pullout if he won the White House.

"Americans are safer when America is engaged in strengthening global health. On my first day as President, I will rejoin the WHO and restore our leadership on the world stage," Biden wrote on Twitter.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus responded to the news with a one-word tweet — "Together!" — as he linked to a discussion by US health experts on how leaving the global body could impede efforts to prevent future pandemics.

In line with conditions set when the WHO was set up in 1948, the United States can leave within one year but must meet its remaining assessed financial obligations, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

'Total control'

In late May, Trump said that China exerted "total control" over the WHO and accused the UN body led by Tedros, an Ethiopian doctor and diplomat, of failing to implement reforms.

Blaming China for the coronavirus, Trump, a frequent critic of the UN, said the United States would redirect funding "to other worldwide and deserving, urgent, global public health needs."

Democratic lawmakers have accused Trump of seeking to deflect criticism from his handling of the pandemic in the United States, which has suffered by far the highest death toll of any nation despite the president's stated hope that the virus will disappear.

"To call Trump's response to COVID chaotic and incoherent doesn't do it justice," said Senator Robert Menendez, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee.

"This won't protect American lives or interests — it leaves Americans sick and America alone," he said.

Representative Ami Bera, himself a physician, said that the United States and World Health Organization had worked "hand in hand" to eradicate smallpox and nearly defeat polio.

"Our cases are increasing," Bera said of COVID-19. "If the WHO is to blame: why has the US been left behind while many countries from South Korea to New Zealand to Vietnam to Germany return to normal?"

Even some of Trump's Republican allies had voiced hope that he was exerting pressure rather than making a final decision to abandon the World Health Organization.

The investigative news outlet ProPublica reported last month that most of Trump's aides were blindsided by the WHO withdrawal announcement, which he made during an appearance about China. 

The Trump administration has said that the WHO ignored early signs of human-to-human transmission in China, including warnings from Taiwan — which, due to Beijing's pressure, is not part of the UN body.

While many public health advocates share some criticism of the WHO, they question what other options the world body had other than to work with China, where COVID-19 was first detected late last year in the city of Wuhan.

The anti-poverty campaign ONE said the United States should work to reform, not abandon, the WHO.

"Withdrawing from the World Health Organization amidst an unprecedented global pandemic is an astounding action that puts the safety of all Americans the world at risk," it said.

DONALD TRUMP NOVEL CORONAVIRUS WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: October 30, 2020 - 6:41pm

Follow this page for updates on a mysterious pneumonia outbreak that has struck dozens of people in China.

October 30, 2020 - 6:41pm

The Department of Health says they do not recommend the use of necklace air purifiers for protection against coronavirus infections.

"The DOH clarifies that it is NOT ENDORSING the use of necklace air purifiers that claim to kill bacteria or viruses, or protect from COVID-19," the health department says in a statement.

"While these devices do not pose any harm, the DOH currently does not recommend using these devices due to lack of evidence of efficacy," it adds.

 

October 30, 2020 - 4:25pm

The Department of Health reports 2,006 new COVID-19 cases. This brings the total number of COVID-19 infections in the Philippines to 378,933.

There are 41,291 active COVID-19 cases. The DOH announces 38 new deaths and 636 additional recoveries.

October 29, 2020 - 9:18pm

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 1,175,992 people since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 11:00 GMT on Thursday. 

At least 44,561,260 cases of coronavirus have been registered. Of these, at least 29,949,000 are now considered recovered.

The tallies, using data collected by AFP from national authorities and information from the World Health Organization (WHO), probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections. — AFP

October 29, 2020 - 4:11pm

The Department of Health reports 1,761 additional COVID-19 infections, bringing the national tally to 376,935.

As of Oct. 29, 2020, there 39,940 active cases. Thirty-three succumbed to the deadly virus while 740 more have recovered.

October 29, 2020 - 3:11pm

India on Thursday passes eight million coronavirus cases, with the world's second-worst-hit country bracing for a possible second wave ahead of winter and a series of religious festivals.

There have now been 8,040,203 cases and 120,527 deaths across the country of 1.3 billion people, according to the latest government figures.

The United States has seen 9.1 million cases and more than 230,000 deaths. — AFP

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