APHA opposes Trump move to cut essential WHO funding

Date: Apr 14 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: APHA Media Relations 

Washington, D.C., April 14, 2020 – The American Public Health Association stands in solidarity with the World Health Organization and denounces the Trump administration's decision to halt U.S. funding. Ending U.S. contributions to WHO will cripple the world's response to COVID-19 and could harm the health and lives of thousands of Americans.

"WHO is in a race to treat, test and protect people from the devastation of COVID-19. Its leadership in combatting COVID-19 has been indispensable, irreplaceable and decisive," said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, APHA's executive director.

"Getting ahead of this virus requires a rapid global response and the coordination of multiple countries," Benjamin said. "It is only with this coordination that we can accelerate the pace of research and generate the critical science-based evidence that is needed to save the lives of people in the U.S. and around the world.

"We must be singularly focused on using all of our assets, including WHO, to get in front of this insidious virus."

WHO's work is critical for:

  • Creating a comprehensive research and development agenda to get safe vaccines and effective therapeutics in play. A WHO-led approach allows multiple countries to work together to accelerate the pace of research and development and increase the amount of what can get done.
  • Addressing the next frontier of the pandemic, which will devastate low-resource countries and humanitarian settings. While more than 70% of the world remains underprepared to prevent, detect and respond to such public health threats, WHO has been working with low-income countries for to help them prepare. Strong, effective and functional public health systems within countries are crucial for reducing risks.
  • Leading the U.N. development system's public health work at the country level. WHO works with vital operational arms of the United Nations, including UNICEF, the World Food Program and UNHCR. Though U.S. assistances is essential to aiding these countries, funding is still insufficient.
  • Supporting and coordinating supply chains for critical public health commodities, such as personal protective equipment and lab kits. WHO is the lead of the U.N. COVID-19 Supply Chain Task Force for the global procurement of pandemic commodities. The U.S. is purchasing its own supplies, but if all countries did so on their own, prices would skyrocket everywhere. Bulk purchasing will help everyone.

"Now is not the time to undermine WHO's vital work," Benjamin said. "There will be a time for lessons learned once this pandemic is over. WHO has expressed a full willingness to participate in a thorough review of what has worked and what has not as we have raced to stop this disease, and we support their inclusion.

"Any effort to remove funding from WHO, particularly in this time of crisis, would be a crime against humanity and endanger the health of Americans and people around the world."

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The American Public Health Association champions the health of all people and all communities. We are the only organization that combines a nearly 150-year perspective, a broad-based member community and the ability to influence federal policy to improve the public’s health. Learn more at www.apha.org.