WHO resumes annual ministerial assembly focusing on pandemic

The World Health Organization (WHO) will resume its annual ministerial meeting in Geneva today. The meeting, cut short in May,

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Photo: UN

The World Health Organization (WHO) will resume its annual ministerial meeting in Geneva today.

The meeting, cut short in May, will focus on the COVID-19 pandemic, currently intensifying around the world. Thus far, some 48 million people have been recorded as infected, of which 1.2 million people have died. The WHO has struggled to formulate a coordinated global response due in part due to the withdrawal of its most important member, the US, under President Donald Trump. The US paid $900 million into the WHO budget in the past two years and on average the US accounts for approximately 15% of WHO’s voluntary donation budget.

However, Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s presidential victory will see the reversal of Trump’s withdrawal—one of the key Biden promises to fight the COVID-19 pandemic at home and abroad.

Unlike Trump’s isolationism, Biden supports US leadership of global multilateral organisations. His presidency heralds a restoration of US leadership of WHO health initiatives and augurs well for the equitable distribution of vaccines to poorer developing countries—initiatives which essentially rely upon US financial assistance. The suspension of US monetary contributions would likely have cut funding in poorer regions for COVID-19 immunisations at such time as a vaccine is deemed safe to distribute.