Amanda Glassman, the executive vice president and a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development in Washington D.C. has criticized the Donald Trump administration for formally notifying Congress of its intent to withdraw the United States from the World Health Organization (WHO).
“The Trump Administration’s actions to withdraw from the WHO endanger public health and well-being in the United States and around the world,” Glassman wrote in a statement received by TODAY NEWS AFRICA in Washington D.C.
The Trump administration also sent a letter to United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres withdrawing the US from WHO.
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The Washington Post noted that under the terms of a joint resolution passed by Congress in 1948, the United States must give a year’s notice in writing and pay its debts to the agency in order to leave.
President Donald Trump has frequently accused the WHO of mismanaging the coronavirus pandemic response, and for not holding China accountable and for reportedly hiding some facts about the respiratory disease to the world. The WHO has always refuted those claims with a detailed timeline of its response to the pandemic, as far back as January, at a time when Trump was still downplaying the crisis, and calling it a hoax at a rally.
However, Glassman, a global public health expert, said the threat posed by the U.S. withdrawal from the WHO goes beyond COVID-19 and would affect the most vulnerable people around the world.
“The threat is not just COVID-19 today. There has been a notable rise in the frequency of pandemics from the year 2000 onwards due to increased viral disease amongst animals and high levels of human mobility essential for prosperity at home and abroad,” she said.
“The likelihood of a new coronavirus emergence in the next five years is considered likely given what we are seeing with SARS-CoV-2 mutations and spread to other species. The probability of a high lethality strain of influenza in the next decade or so is also significant, the only uncertainty is the timing. Resistance to antibiotics and antivirals is also on the rise, and requires global coordinated action to conserve these medicines that make modern health care possible. Other, still unknown biosecurity threats are also on the horizon.
“COVID-19 has already cost more than 130,000 American lives and is projected to result in $8 trillion in economic losses in the US over the next decade. The human and economic impact of this and future outbreaks do not depend only on what the US does domestically, but what every country in the world does to detect early, to conduct on-going high-quality surveillance and laboratory testing, to share disease intelligence from genomic sequences to interventions, to control spread, and to conserve medical countermeasures like antibiotics. The WHO is the agency mandated to coordinate these global functions under the supervision and governance of its board of member countries.
“As has now been shown in sharp relief, the WHO lacks the necessary funding and full capabilities needed to effectively control the global spread of infectious diseases. Failures and weaknesses throughout the international system, including WHO but also national governments who design multilateral institutions for short-term benefit, have led us to where we are today.
“Yet none of the corrective measures needed at WHO will be accomplished without US membership in good standing. Withdrawal is counterintuitive at best and dangerous to human life at worst. The US Congress should immediately explore what power it has to prevent this from happening,” Glassman added.