WHO official calls U.S. withdrawal decision "very unfortunate"

2020-07-09 Xinhua Editor:Li Yan

The U.S. decision to quit the World Health Organization (WHO) is "very unfortunate"and "it will not bode well for any stakeholder" if relations are severed, the United Nations (UN) agency's top official in Turkey said.

"It is very unfortunate ... The COVID-19 pandemic only underscores the need and criticality of this collaboration to continue," rshad Ali Shaikh, interim head of the WHO's Turkish office, said in a recent interview with Xinhua at the Turkish headquarters of the WHO in Ankara.

The United States on Tuesday officially submitted its notification of withdrawal from the WHO to the UN secretary-general, following an announcement made in May. The move came amid a rising number of coronavirus cases throughout the Americas over the past week.

"This is not an issue of U.S. and WHO alone; this is an issue affecting the globe and WHO is part of the globe," Shaikh said.

"WHO is what member states make it," he said, stressing that "it will not bode well for any stakeholder" if relations are severed.

The support given by the United States, "a founding member" of the health agency, should countinue, he said, adding that the U.S. role in addressing epidemics from smallpox to the recent outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo is "very important."

The WHO official also stressed the need for global solidarity to fight the COVID-19 pandemic as it is an issue affecting the world in its entirety.

In this regard, he applauded China's decision to share knowledge with Turkish officials and scientists throughout the outbreak, as well as with other countries afflicted by the pandemic.

"China has been very gracious in sharing" its knowledge and experience with other nations and sending medical supplies, and has been "a very good example of global solidarity," he said.

The official said that many countries are still looking up to the "Chinese experience and lockdown measures" in order to curb the spread of the virus in their respective territories.

Shaikh pointed out that "there is no limit to cooperation" in fighting the virus, clinical trials to develop a vaccine, and real-time sharing of knowledge.

"We cannot let our guard down" in the fight against the coronavirus, he stressed, adding that the fight should go on relentlessly until an effective vaccine is found as "this pandemic has literally rewritten the book of outbreak and prevention for experts."

He expressed optimism about the efforts of several countries, including China, to develop a vaccine, saying that "there is tremendous hope," and that the WHO is collaborating to this effect with nations and relevant agencies.

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