Media Outlets Examine U.S. Withdrawal From WHO, Calls For Agency’s Reform, Efforts To Investigate Novel Coronavirus Origins

Financial Times: WHO struggles to prove itself in the face of Covid-19
“…The Trump administration’s rejection of an institution to which it has been the biggest donor is a reflection of both anger at the body’s perceived closeness to Beijing and the president’s revolt against multilateralism. But it has also highlighted concerns about how a health guardian created from the devastation of war and disease has become hobbled by political power plays, battles over science, and unstable funding — all of them exacerbated by the urgency of the Covid-19 crisis…” (Peel et al., 7/12).

The Guardian: WHO’s Covid-19 inquiry is a shrewd move in a sea of disinformation
“…If Trump’s America First agenda has any organizing theme beyond self interest and chaos, it is, above all, a profound dislike of multilateral international institutions and agreements, not least the U.N., which has seen agencies defunded, agreements and treaties abandoned, and others threatened at the hands of Washington. Which is why, in the week in which the U.S. formally announced its intention to quit the WHO, the organization’s announcement of the two figures who will lead its review of the pandemic and its response feels significant. Given Trump’s record of denigrating female leaders, and of racist dog-whistles, it is striking that the review will be chaired by two highly regarded and independent-minded women leaders, one of them from Africa — Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a Nobel laureate and the former president of Liberia, and Helen Clark, former prime minister of New Zealand…” (Beaumont, 7/10).

The Hill: Allies bite their tongues after Trump withdraws from WHO
“President Trump’s move to withdraw the U.S. from the World Health Organization (WHO) has received only muted criticism from allied nations as they look to preserve American cooperation amid the global challenges posed by COVID-19. These allies are holding back despite widespread frustration with the president’s continued attack on global partnerships and the U.S. global actions on the pandemic, including imposing travel restrictions soon after its onset…” (Kelly, 7/11).

“…While few share Trump’s exact criticisms of WHO, calls for reform of the organization are growing, including from supportive governments and scientists who consider WHO slow and conservative in its policy responses. Germany and France — vocal supporters of WHO in public — are privately unhappy with what they see as a lack of transparency and accountability at the organization. The German and French health ministers met Tedros in Geneva in June and announced they would increase their donations to offset the U.S. funding halt…” (Paun/Heath, 7/10).

Science: A WHO-led mission may investigate the pandemic’s origin. Here are the key questions to ask
“The two-person team from the World Health Organization (WHO) traveling to China [on July 10] to address the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic is unlikely to come home with answers. Rather, the duo — an epidemiologist and an animal health expert whose names have not been released — will discuss with Chinese officials the scope of a larger international mission later, according to a WHO statement. … So, assuming WHO’s team and the Chinese government work out a deal for an international mission to study the pandemic’s origins, where would it start? Here are some key questions that need answers…” (Cohen, 7/10).

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