World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Photo from WHO’s official page on Weibo
By Zhong Sheng
The threats made by some U.S. politicians to withdraw from the World Health Organization (WHO) in the previous months finally turned real among dissenting voices around the globe.
On July 6, the White House submitted to the United Nations (UN) its notice to quit the UN health body by July the next year.
As the COVID-19 pandemic is still spreading fast, the U.S. is acting like a deserter in the battle and standing at the opposite side of the global anti-pandemic cooperation. Such irresponsible and hegemonic unilateralism is total disgrace.
As it’s seen by all, some U.S. politicians have always taken the WHO as a scapegoat to which they divert domestic contradictions and shift responsibilities, in an attempt to cover up their incapability to cope with the disease.
The U.S. announcement to halt its funding for the WHO made on April 14 triggered huge uproar in the international society. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres stressed in a statement following the U.S. announcement that now is the time for unity and for the international community to work together in solidarity to stop this virus and its shattering consequences. He said the WHO must be supported, as it is absolutely critical to the world’s efforts to win the war against COVID-19.
An American expert pointed out that the disaster in the U.S. was not caused by the WHO, but the White House’s neglect to the organization’s warnings. A commentary of the New York Times called the U.S. move a dangerous attempt to find a scapegoat for its own failings. “It is like taking away a fire department’s trucks in the middle of a blaze,” the article said.
However, some U.S. politicians are still going their own way. On May 18, the White House sent a letter to the WHO, threatening to quit the organization if the latter “does not commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days.” Eleven days later, it announced to terminate the ties with the UN health body.
Had the U.S. government taken more time listening to the WHO, rather than trying to destroy it, then tens of thousands of Americans would still be alive today – that is a common belief of U.S. citizens. However, such voice is never heard by the U.S. politicians who seek only private interests, disregarding both the lives and health of the U.S. citizens, and the public health security of the world.
As an important platform for global public health cooperation, the WHO plays a key role in early warning, coordinating response strategies, sharing treatment plans and organizing international assistance when emergent infectious diseases break out. Facing with the sudden COVID-19 epidemic, the WHO, by starting multiple labs, establishing global testing network, enhancing global diagnosis capability, improving the monitoring of virus origins, and accelerating vaccine development, has built a joint force in the international community to fight the disease, and won recognition and high reputation from the world.
Solidarity and cooperation, representing international justice, are necessary to tackle the current challenge that concerns the health of all mankind. While the global community is stressing solidarity, some U.S. politicians are defunding, threatening and withdrawing from the WHO.
WHO is the only body capable of leading and coordinating the global response to COVID-19, said UN Foundation President and CEO Elizabeth Cousens, calling the U.S. withdrawal “short-sighted, unnecessary, and unequivocally dangerous.”
Viruses respect no border. As of the afternoon of June 7, EST, the U.S. had reported a total of over 2.98 million infections and 130,000 deaths. Nearly 60,000 infections and over 1,000 deaths were newly reported in the past 24 hours. Statistics indicated that many states in the west and the south have continuously seen new highs in infections, and the COVID-19 curve is drastically increasing in the country.
The U.S. public opinion held that the blind optimism of the White House is creating a COVID-19 nightmare for the U.S., and its attacks on the WHO will finally hurt itself. Many American public health experts worried that the short-sighted practices of the U.S. will not only disturb the clinical trials crucial for vaccine development, but also lead to unpreparedness of the country for possible pandemics in the future.
Anyone with conscience knows which to choose between saving lives and ducking responsibilities, as well as between solidarity and making troubles. However, some U.S. politicians are just going against justice, which fully exposed their immoral nature.
Solidarity and cooperation remain the right way to deal with the pandemic. The WHO recently urged relevant countries to “wake up” and face up squarely to the pandemic. It indicated that the international society hopes the U.S. can stay sober and rational, and take practical measures to prevent the disease.
It’s urgent to build a global line of defense to safeguard the lives and health of the people. Only by mutual assistance and joint cooperation can we achieve the final victory over the major public health crisis.
(Zhong Sheng is a pen name often used by People’s Daily to express its views on foreign policy.)
World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Photo from WHO’s official page on Weibo
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