US formally withdraws from WHO

New Delhi, July 8 (PTI): The Trump administration has formally notified the United Nations of its decision to withdraw the United States from the World Health Organization, officials said, breaking off ties with the global health body amid the expanding coronavirus pandemic.

The US has accused the WHO of siding with China on the outbreak of the virus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, alleging the health body misled the world resulting in deaths of over half a million people globally, including over 130,000 in America.

In April, the US stopped funding to WHO as the Trump administration reviewed the ties. A month later, President Donald Trump announced the US was terminating the relationship. The US is the largest funder to the world health, contributing more than USD450 million per annum, while China's contribution to the health body is about one-tenth of that of the US.

"I can say that on 6 July 2020, the United States of America notified the secretary-general, in his capacity as depositary of the 1946 Constitution of the World Health Organization, of its withdrawal from the World Health Organization, effective on 6 July 2021, said Stphane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN secretary-general, in a statement.

Dujarric said the secretary-general is in the process of verifying with the WHO whether all the conditions for such withdrawal are met.

The United States has been a party to the WHO Constitution since June 21, 1948. Its participation was accepted by the World Health Assembly with certain conditions set out by the US for its eventual withdrawal from this world body.

The said conditions include giving a one-year notice, meaning the withdrawal won't go into effect until July 6 next year, raising the possibility the Trump administration's decision could be reversed by a new government after the presidential elections in November this year.

The decision was criticised by several Congressmen, who said it "would be a bad policy".

"To call Trump's response to COVID chaotic and incoherent doesn't do it justice. This won't protect American lives or interests -- it leaves Americans sick and America alone," tweeted Senator Robert Menendez, a ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Congressman Eliot Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said, It would be bad policy to pull out of the world's leading body coordinating global health efforts under any circumstances, but to do so during a global pandemic is utterly baffling, especially against the backdrop of 130,000 American lives lost.

Remaining in the WHO and exerting American leadership would boost international efforts to develop a vaccine and strengthen other countries' health systems to better address future outbreaks, he said.