July 7, 2020 ... The Trump administration took steps today to officially begin the process to withdraw the United States from the World Health Organization. In addition to notifying Congress, White House officials turned in the required one-year notification to the United Nations, which means the US would no longer be a member state in the WHO come July 6, 2021.
As the largest donor to the WHO, the United States' absence will be felt ... not only in dealing with the current pandemic but in containing other global outbreaks and diseases, which could ultimately reach American shores.
Reaction has been swift from political leaders and major health organizations. Joe Biden said he would rejoin the WHO on his first day in office should he be elected president.
Senator Lamar Alexander, chair of the HELP Committee, said:
"I disagree with the president's decision. Certainly there needs to be a good, hard look at mistakes the World Health Organization might have made in connection with coronavirus, but the time to do that is after the crisis has been dealt with, not in the middle of it. Withdrawing U.S. membership could, among other things, interfere with clinical trials that are essential to the development of vaccines, which citizens of the United States as well as others in the world need. And withdrawing could make it harder to work with other countries to stop viruses before they get to the United States. If the administration has specific recommendations for reforms of the WHO, it should submit those recommendations to Congress, and we can work together to make those happen."
The following statement is attributable to: AAP President Sally Goza, MD, FAAP, AAFP President Gary L. LeRoy, M.D., AMA President Susan R. Bailey, M.D., and ACP President, Jacqueline W. Fincher, MD, FACP:
"The Trump administration's official withdrawal from the World Health Organization (WHO) puts the health of our country at grave risk. As leading medical organizations, representing hundreds of thousands of physicians, we join in strong opposition to this decision, which is a major setback to science, public health, and global coordination efforts needed to defeat COVID-19.
"The WHO plays a leading role in protecting, supporting, and promoting public health in the United States and around the world. The agency has been on the frontlines of every global child health challenge over the last seven decades, successfully eradicating smallpox, vaccinating billions against measles, and cutting preventable child deaths by more than half since 1990. Withdrawing from the WHO puts these investments at risk and leaves the United States without a seat at the table - at a time when our leadership is most desperately needed.
"As our nation and the rest of the world face a global health pandemic, a worldwide, coordinated response is more vital than ever. This dangerous withdrawal not only impacts the global response against COVID-19, but also undermines efforts to address other major public health threats. The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians, American College of Physicians and American Medical Association strongly oppose this short-sighted decision. We call on Congress to reject the Administration's withdrawal from the WHO and make every effort to preserve the United States' relationship with this valued global institution. Now is the time to invest in global health, rather than turn back."