Over One Thousand Organizations and Individuals Join Call for Ongoing WHO Support and Collaboration

Washington, DC (April 24, 2020) – More than one thousand global health stakeholders, coordinated by Global Health Council, have joined together to push back on recent statements from President Trump signaling a freeze on U.S. funding to the World Health Organization (WHO). In a letter sent to the White House this morning, the community laid out a strong case for continued support and collaboration for the institution, which is so critical to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As we face the worst public health disaster in the last 100 years, suspending funding to WHO is like cutting the water supply to a firefighter in the middle of a fire,” said Global Health Council President, Loyce Pace. “Now is the time for the U.S. to step up as a leader, working with the global community to stop the spread of the pandemic and strengthening the global public health architecture so that a crisis of this magnitude doesn’t happen again.”

WHO is the only organization with the technical capacity and global mandate to support the public health response of all countries during this critical time. The institution’s efforts have been vital to flattening the curve, slowing the virus’s spread, and ultimately saving lives in the U.S. and around the world. Among other things, it has done the essential, rapid work of coordinating efforts across the globe – gathering, analyzing, and disseminating public health information; procuring critical commodities, including personal protective equipment (PPE); and spurring vaccine research and development.

As the virus continues to spread into lower resource settings, impacting countries ill-equipped to combat it, WHO’s role will be even more vital to support fragile health systems already struggling to provide basic health interventions to vulnerable populations. In this capacity, WHO’s interventions will not only save lives but also help to ensure economic stability as the world recovers from this devastating disease.

As these lower resource countries are forced to shift already limited resources to address the pandemic, they face ripple effects in other areas. Supply chains used to transport critical treatments for diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis are being repurposed, creating bottlenecks and even causing some programs to halt entirely. Longer term, this poses a significant threat to global health progress and risks the reversal of many of the gains made in recent years. Stripping the WHO of critical resources would turn this ripple effect into a tsunami.

WHO is critical in helping guide not just low-income countries, but all nations in their response to the pandemic. Throughout the crisis, it has partnered closely with leading U.S. agencies like Centers for Disease Control, National Institutes of Health, USAID and the Department of State, to keep people safe around the world and here at home.

While reforms and improvements can and should be made, now is not the time to focus on optimizing WHO operations. Global Health Council has long encouraged WHO’s leadership to adopt various reforms to improve operations and outcomes. Encouragingly, the Director-General’s response has been positive to those and other recommendations. But the time for assessing what went right and wrong with the institution’s COVID-19 response is not in the midst of a pandemic. There will be an opportunity to review lessons learned after we have exhausted all efforts to save lives and put this crisis behind us. What is needed to meet the current moment is standing with WHO as it charts a course forward to make it through this fight.

“WHO is instrumental in strengthening efforts to stop the spread of the virus, saving lives, and restarting the global economy. But it is reliant on strong U.S. support to do so,” said Pace. “That is why more than one thousand of us—advocates, NGOs, faith leaders, foundations, philanthropy, the private sector, think tanks and others—have joined together to urge the U.S. government to continue to fund the WHO to end the pandemic.”

About Global Health Council
Established in 1972, Global Health Council (GHC) is the leading membership organization supporting and connecting advocates, implementers and stakeholders around global health priorities worldwide. GHC represents the collaborative voice of the community on key issues; we convene stakeholders around key priorities and actively engage with decision makers to influence global health policy. Learn more at www.globalhealth.org.

Media Contacts

Heyab Ogbasion, Manager, External Engagement – hogbasion@globalhealth.org

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