What does it mean when the United States leaves the WHO?

President Donald Trump has formalized the American exit and withdrawn his significant economic contribution to the organization
Donald Trump, President of the United States

PHOTO/AP  -   Donald Trump, President of the United States

Donald Trump, President of the United States, has complied with the above and has formally initiated the procedure for his country's exit from the World Health Organization (WHO) due to the clear disagreements that have existed between both parties on the management of the health crisis of the COVID-19. The Republican leader has informed the U.S. Congress and António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), to which the WHO is attached, of the activation of the disengagement process. 

The spokesman of the UN General Secretariat, Stéphane Dujarric, has confirmed the initiative of the American exit after the mechanism was activated last Monday. According to what has been established, it is expected that the effective exit of the USA from the WHO will take place next July 6th, 2021, that is to say, within exactly one year from the official communication implemented by the American giant. 

In order to be able to dissociate itself from the entity integrated in the United Nations, the USA must fulfill a series of requirements. Firstly, to communicate it one year in advance (that's why the exit will be effective in July next year) and, secondly, to comply with all the financial obligations it had previously acquired by virtue of the accepted rules for being part of the WHO itself. 

Here lies an important and certainly definite point for the body led by the Ethiopian immunologist and politician Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: that of the economic aspect. The United States was the main donor of money to the WHO and its disappearance is a severe blow to the coffers of the governing body of global health. The United States had positioned itself as the main contributor to the WHO; it contributed around 900 million dollars in the 2018-2019 budget, which means a fifth of the total 4.4 billion for that period, according to data provided by the AP agency. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the second largest contributor to the global institution. 

El director general de la Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
PHOTO/FABRICE COFFRINI via REUTERS - World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

The departure comes after the countless criticisms expressed by Trump against the WHO, which he has accused of being at the service of China. "Fortunately, the WHO's recommendations did not convince me when I suspended travel to and from China and saved a large number of lives," the Republican leader went on to say on several occasions. 

Trump went through several stages since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. At first, he wanted to play down the issue and compared it to a flu (something he was reminded of from China to ridicule him even on social networks); later, with the seriousness that the issue took, Donald Trump varied the speech, always arguing that his country was doing well, despite the terrible data of victims and affected that the American nation records. The WHO is the main reference entity in terms of health recommendations around the planet and has been dictating the most appropriate measures to face the coronavirus. Now the United States is turning its back on it, just at a hard time in the pandemic for the North American giant, which counts more than 131,000 deaths and nearly three million diagnosed cases. 

At the end of May, Donald Trump ended the link with the WHO, seen by him as a real "puppet" of the Asian country, which he accused of opacity in the origins of the pathogen. "The silence of the WHO in the face of the disappearance of researchers and doctors and the new restrictions on information on research into the origins of COVID-19 by China is deeply worrying," Trump said. A WHO that did not comply with certain changes sought by the US president, Trump himself denounced. "We have proposed detailed reforms that must be implemented and to which the organization must commit itself, but they have refused to act," said the president and businessman, who was already putting an end to the relationship between the two parties in the absence of the mandatory procedure. 

Xi Jinping, presidente de China
PHOTO/AP - Xi Jinping, President of China

Donald Trump has also complied with the requirement to materialize the official communication before the US Congress, receiving the relevant criticism from several sectors, including of course the opposition. Democratic Senator Bob Menéndez, who is also chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has reported on the social network Twitter that Parliament had received notification from the Trump Administration of the nation's withdrawal from the WHO, just at the height of the pandemic and with high numbers of deaths and infections in the United States. Menendez has called this escape "chaotic and incoherent", which "will not help protect the lives of Americans or benefit the interests of the people". 

In this line, the president of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, has also called this decision by Trump a "real foolishness", as she has also stated on Twitter. 

For his part, the former vice president and candidate for the presidency, Joe Biden, has come out in favour of promising that the United States will return to the WHO if he is elected president by the American people in the next elections. "Americans are safer when the U.S. commits to global health," he said on social networks. The United States' exit from the United Nations will not become effective until July 6, 2021, so the process may be at the expense of the results of the next U.S. elections in November.