Amnesty International on Wednesday called on the United States Congress to halt plan by President Donald Trump to stop funding the World Health Organization (WHO).
President Trump on Tuesday announced he would be halting funding to the WHO while his administration reportedly investigates some of the failings of the organization’s response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, described Trump’s decision as an attempt to “distract from criticisms of his own administration’s response”.
“In trying to distract from criticisms of his own administration’s response, President Trump is undermining global efforts to protect people from one of the worst health crises in over a century.
“This crisis can only be solved through collective effort. COVID-19 does not respect borders, and Trump’s withdrawal will harm the U.S. as well as other countries fighting the virus. While other world leaders are pledging more support to the WHO, President Trump’s proposal to slash their resources at this moment of crisis will undermine efforts to save lives and halt the spread of the virus. The WHO cannot do its job if it is held hostage to the whims of powerful states, and other countries must do all they can to ensure this reckless decision does not hamper the fight against COVID-19.
“The U.S. administration should immediately reconsider its suspension of funding. Congress should also take immediate action to halt any measures which reverse the US’s longstanding commitment to protecting international public health. History will judge harshly those who play with people’s lives for their own political gain,” Guevara-Rosas said.
The WHO is the primary international body with a mandate to support global public health. In addition to playing a key role in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, it implements numerous programs to prevent, control, and treat Ebola, measles, malaria, HIV and AIDS, and many other diseases. The U.S. is currently the largest contributor to the WHO.
Under President Trump, the U.S. has increasingly withdrawn from critical United Nations initiatives. Since he took office, the U.S. has withdrawn from the UN Human Rights Council, the UN cultural agency (UNESCO) and the global accord to tackle climate change.