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U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with industry executives on the reopening of the U.S. economy in the State Dining Room May 29 in Washington, DC. Erin Schaff-Pool / Getty Images

By Jon Queally

President Donald Trump at a White House press conference on Friday announced he was "terminating" ties to the World Health Organization, even as the global death toll from the coronavirus pandemic nears 363,000 — including the more than 100,000 dead from the virus in the U.S., many attributed to his own mismanagement of the crisis.

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World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says this is a historic step for the group. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP / Getty Images

By Linda Lacina

World Health Organization officials today announced the launch of the WHO Foundation, a legally separate body that will help expand the agency's donor base and allow it to take donations from the general public.

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President Donald Trump sent a four-page letter to Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, pictured here during a daily COVID-19 press briefing on February 28, 2020 at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP / Getty Images

By Jake Johnson

President Donald Trump on Monday sent a four-page letter to Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, threatening to permanently freeze U.S. funding to the United Nations agency in the midst of a global pandemic that has made international cooperation as crucial as ever.

Trump's letter, which he posted to Twitter Monday night, repeats the president's accusations that WHO is deferential to China and says that if the organization "does not commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days, I will make my temporary freeze of United States funding to the World Health Organization permanent and reconsider our membership in the organization."

The president also alleged that WHO ignored early warnings about the spread of the coronavirus and made "grossly inaccurate or misleading" claims about the virus. Observers noted that much of Trump's critique of WHO's handling of the coronavirus pandemic applies to the White House's handling of the crisis, which has been condemned as fatally slow and inadequate.

"This is a phenomenally damning letter—of the president's own response," tweeted HuffPost White House correspondent S.V. Dáte. "All of those early dates? Late December and January? Were known to U.S. officials and relayed to Trump. Who did nothing."

 

Trump wrote that WHO "consistently ignored credible reports of the virus spreading in Wuhan in early December 2019 or even earlier, including reports from The Lancet."

Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet, a U.K.-based medical journal, refuted the president's claim in a tweet early Tuesday.

"Dear President Trump—You cite The Lancet in your attack on WHO. Please let me correct the record," Horton wrote. "The Lancet did not publish any report in early December, 2019, about a virus spreading in Wuhan. The first reports we published were from Chinese scientists on Jan 24, 2020."

Trump's letter comes just over a month after he announced his decision to temporarily halt U.S. funding to WHO, a move Horton condemned at the time as an "appalling betrayal of global solidarity" that "every scientist, every health worker, every citizen must resist and rebel against."

Devi Sridhar, professor and chair of Global Public Health at the University of Edinburgh, tweeted that the U.S. president's letter shows that he "doesn't understand what WHO can and cannot do."

"It is a normative, technical agency which needs to keep member states at the table," Sridhar said. "If he thinks they need more power then member states should agree and delegate it more. This letter is written for his base and to deflect blame."

John Cavanagh, director of the Institute for Policy Studies and former economist at the WHO, wrote in an op-ed for Foreign Policy In Focus earlier this month that while "WHO is far from perfect," the organization "is playing a key role in poorer countries, and its importance will only grow as the pandemic spreads in these nations."

"The story line from Reagan to Trump is the same: undermining global public health to serve narrow interests," Cavanagh wrote. "For Reagan, it was to help a few well-connected corporate backers. For Trump, it may be to help a single billionaire in particular—himself. Only now, we're in the middle of a pandemic that's only just begun to devastate the vulnerable regions that need the WHO the most. The United States shouldn't be cutting support now. We should be increasing it."


Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.

Two members of the Fire Department of New York's Emergency Medical Team wheel in a patient with potentially fatal coronavirus to the Elmhurst Hospital Center in the Queens borough of New York City on March 30, 2020. Robert Nickelsberg / Getty Images

Note: This story was originally published on Healthline on April 26, 2020. All data and statistics are based on publicly available data at the time of publication.

By Bob Curley

More men are dying from COVID-19 worldwide than women, and the potential reasons run the gamut from biology to bad habits.

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President Donald Trump speaks at a White House press briefing in which he announced his decision to pause funds to the World Health Organization. Alex Wong / Getty Images

In a move roundly decried by public health experts, President Donald Trump announced Tuesday he would halt U.S. funding for the World Health Organization (WHO) as his administration investigates the international body's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

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World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a daily press briefing on COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, at the WHO headquarters on Feb. 28 in Geneva. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

The World Health Organization on Friday raised the global risk of the new coronavirus to its highest level and reiterated the necessity of worldwide containment efforts as U.S. President Donald Trump continued to face widespread criticism over how his administration has handled the public health crisis so far.

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Thanasis Zovoilis / DigitalVision / Getty Images

Infants less than a year old should not be exposed to electronic screens, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday.

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ricardo / zone41.net

You now have another good reason to avoid bottled water. An investigation on brands from around the world determined that the water is often contaminated with tiny pieces of plastic.

The new study, conducted by journalism organization Orb Media and researchers at the State University of New York at Fredonia, has already prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to launch a review into the potential risks of plastic in drinking water.

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Mike Mozart / Flickr

The agrochemical and seed giant Monsanto, one of the world's most controversial corporations, is attempting to take down a World Health Organization (WHO) agency that in 2015 linked the Monsanto product glyphosate to an increased risk of cancer in humans. That year, the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) found that the widely used herbicide is "probably carcinogenic to humans."

The decision was a major blow to Monsanto as its most popular product, Roundup, is glyphosate-based. Following the IARC's decision, the European Union began to consider banning the product altogether, potentially depriving Monsanto of a significant stream of revenue. Monsanto, which is seeking the EU's renewal of the chemical's license for the next 10 years, is now also fighting a high-profile court case attempting to bring IARC's 2015 decision—as well as the agency itself—under scrutiny.

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The World Health Organization urges cleaner sanitation practices after new data reveals that at least two billion people do not have access to clean water.

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By Nadia Prupis

More than 90 percent of people on the planet live in places where air pollution levels are dangerously high, and millions of people are dying as a result of the exposure, according to new research from the World Health Organization (WHO) released Tuesday.

A polluted Christmas Day at Anyang Normal University, China.V.T. Polywoda / Flickr

Using an air quality model based on satellite data and other ground and air monitors in 3,000 locations, the WHO found that fully 92 percent of people worldwide live in regions where the pollution exceeds the organization's safety limits.

"To date, air pollution—both ambient (outdoor) and household (indoor)—is the biggest environmental risk to health, carrying responsibility for about one in every nine deaths annually," the report states. "Air pollution continues to rise at an alarming rate, and affects economies and people's quality of life; it is a public health emergency."

The organization created an interactive map showing where in the world, both in rural and urban areas, the air is contaminated by toxins that can seep into the lungs and cause cardiovascular diseases, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and lung cancer, among other illnesses.

Screenshot of WHO's interactive map of global ambient air pollution.World Health Organization

The majority of those locations are in developing counties, largely in the regions of Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific, with "vulnerable populations" at a particularly high risk, the report states. More than 6 million people die every year due to exposure to indoor and outdoor air pollution, according to an International Energy Agency study released in June.

"Air pollution continues take a toll on the health of the most vulnerable populations—women, children and the older adults," said WHO assistant director general Dr. Flavia Bustreo. "For people to be healthy, they must breathe clean air from their first breath to their last."

Much of the pollution is human-caused, created through household waste and fuel burning, inefficient transportation, industrial activities and coal-fired power plants, the report states. Particulate matter that emanate from those activities like black carbon, sulphates, nitrates, ammonia, sodium chloride, and mineral dust and water can penetrate and coat the lungs and cause health issues with even short-term exposure. (Other air pollution can have natural causes, such as dust in the air in regions near deserts.)

Dr. Maria Neira, WHO director of the Department of Public Health, Environment, and Social Determinants of Health, said the new data confirms there is no time to waste to address toxins in the atmosphere.

"Fast action to tackle air pollution can't come soon enough," Neira said. "Solutions exist with sustainable transport in cities, solid waste management, access to clean household fuels and cook-stoves, as well as renewable energies and industrial emissions reductions."

The new data follows recent studies linking air pollution to everything from Alzheimer's to economic slowdowns. In the U.S., air pollution is especially high in minority and low-income communities, which a study published in Social Science Research last year referred to as "sacrifice zones."

Increasing and improving studies of dangerous air pollution, particularly in low-income areas, is "crucial" to curtailing its toxic impacts, the WHO said. And strengthening the capacity of developing cities to "monitor their air quality with standardized methods, reliable and good quality instrumentation, is key," the report concludes.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.