KUALA LUMPUR, June 1 — The United States’ withdrawal from the World Health Organization (WHO) can harm global efforts to manage disease threats and eradicate polio, experts warned.
The US has a distinct influence on WHO in handling global health crises, reported STAT.
“The U.S. has always had an extraordinary influence,” Ilona Kickbusch, a long-time former WHO official and chair of the Global Health Centre at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, was quoted saying.
Ashish Jha, director of Harvard’s Global Health Institute, also stated that WHO has experienced numerous reforms after the Ebola outbreak, which includes forming a permanent health emergencies programme.
“A lot of the changes implemented were made at the behest of the United States,” he said.
American experts have vital roles in most WHO advisory committees. The US also has a seat on the WHO’s executive board.
WHO’s executive board is composed of 34 persons who are technically qualified in the field of health, each designated by a Member State that has been elected to serve by the World Health Assembly.
The US’ withdrawal, as announced by president Donald Trump, has raised questions on the role of the American panel on the board during a global public health emergency.
“The US has played an outsized role in global health … across a range of issues,” Jha was quoted saying. “And I think its absence at the WHO would really harm the organisation.”
STAT also reported that the US pulling out from WHO would undermine the global health agency’s ability to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, perhaps even prolonging it.
Last week, Trump announced that the US would withdraw from WHO, alleging that the United Nations health agency had failed to handle the Covid-19 pandemic effectively.
He also accused WHO of being favourable towards China in supposedly concealing the truth of the real Covid-19 situation.