The United States of America is set to play its leading role in global health again as President Joe Biden yesterday (January 20), halted Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the World Health Organisation (WHO),
The Executive Order to restore ties with the global health body was among 17 executive orders issued by the president on his first day in office to reverse some of the former President’s controversial policies.
Top among the executive orders were moves to rejoin the Paris climate accord, end a travel ban from several Muslim-majority countries.
The president also submitted a letter to UN chief Guterres saying the U.S. intended to stay in the WHO, halting Trump’s withdrawal, which was scheduled for July of this year.
The U.S. will be a “full participant and a global leader” in confronting the coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic and other public health threats, Biden said in the letter to the UN chief that rescinded U.S’s. withdrawal from WHO.
The president also signed an executive order mandating that people wear masks in all federal buildings and on federal lands in an effort to fight the spread of the coronavirus.
“Wearing masks isn’t a partisan issue — it’s a patriotic act that can save countless lives.
“It’s time to mask up, America,” Biden wrote on the official presidential Twitter account.
Trump had long downplayed the need to wear masks and avoided wearing masks in public even as COVID-19 pandemic killed over 400,000 people during his tenure as president.
As part of his executive order, Biden asked everyone in the U.S. to wear a mask when in public for at least the next 100 days.
Biden’s transition team said earlier that the executive orders were meant to reverse “the gravest damages of the Trump administration.”
Also, the Biden administration thanked the World Health Organization Thursday for leading the global pandemic response and vowed to remain a member state.
“Under trying circumstances, this organization has rallied the scientific and research and development community to accelerate vaccines, therapies and diagnostics,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, who’s been named President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, told a meeting of the WHO’s executive board.
The WHO, he said, had “relentlessly worked with nations in their fight against COVID-19.”
His comments marked a clear departure from the harsh criticism dealt to the WHO by former President Trump, who’d started withdrawing the U.S. from the organization.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus hailed the about-face.
“WHO is a family of nations and we are all glad that the United States is staying in the family,” he told the executive board meeting.
In his address to the WHO on Thursday, via videolink, Fauci stressed that Washington — long the agency’s top donor — was committed to resuming its share of WHO funding. “The United States … intends to fulfil its financial obligations to the organization,” he said.
He also said Washington planned to “work constructively with partners to strengthen and importantly reform the WHO.”
Fauci stressed that the United States was aware of the towering task ahead in reining in the pandemic, which in just over a year has claimed more than two million lives, infected close to 100 million people and eviscerated the global economy.
“The United States stands ready to work in partnership and solidarity to support the international Covid-19 response,” he said.
Mr. Biden, said Fauci, was also preparing to issue a directive declaring U.S. intent to join the WHO co-led Covax facility, a globally-pooled Covid-19 vaccine procurement and distribution effort aimed at equitable vaccine access.