US  rejoins WHO as Biden takes office

Friday January 22 2021
world01pix
By AFP

WASHINGTON-  Joe  Biden, in the first hours of his presidency, rejoined the Paris climate accord and recommitted to the World Health Organisation (WHO), fulfilling promises he made during the campaign.

 The “incredibly important” move halts the withdrawal process began by Donald Trump administration.

Hours after being sworn in as the 46th President of the US, Mr Biden signed a record of 17 executive orders reversing decisions on immigration, the environment and the economy made by his predecessor. 

Included in this list is an intention to cease the process of withdrawal from WHO. Last July, Donald Trump announced plans to formally cut ties with the UN agency after accusing it of incompetence and being “very China-centric”.

In sharp contrast, the Biden administration described the organisation as “an entity critical to coordinating the international response to Covid-19, advancing preparedness for future epidemics and pandemics, and improving the health of all people”.

Mr Biden’s move is no surprise and last summer he pledged the US would rejoin the organisation on his first day as President as “Americans are safer when America is engaged in strengthening global health”.

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Experts say
But experts have said following through on that promise is significant.

“[It sends] an incredibly important signal about multi-lateralism and the priority this administration is going to put on global health,” Professor Matthew Kavanagh, the director of the Global Health Policy and Politics Initiative at Georgetown University, told the Telegraph.

He said Dr Fauci’s speech to this week’s WHO Executive Board later this week demonstrates a “priority backing for WHO at a moment when the agency deeply needs powerful countries to support it”. 

Dr Mark Eccleston-Turner, an expert in global health law at the University of Keele, added that “the fact that this is one of his very first announcements should not be overlooked”.
 

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