Public Health Experts Slam Trump’s Decision To End Relationship With WHO



Global public health experts denounced President Donald Trump’s decision to cut ties with the World Health Organization, calling it “unconscionable” and “dangerous,” promising to hinder the world’s ability to combat the coronavirus pandemic as well as future disease outbreaks.
A photo taken in the late hours of May 29, 2020 shows a sign of the World Health Organization (WHO) ... [+] at their headquarters in Geneva amid the COVID-19 outbreak, caused by the novel coronavirus.Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images


Trump on Friday said he will terminate the U.S. relationship with the WHO, which he has accused of being controlled by China and having covered up the spread of the disease in the country.

The president said he will redirect WHO funds to other global public health needs, but there are questions as to whether Trump has the legal authority to withdraw funds from the WHO without authorization from Congress.

Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor University, told Forbes the move will make it harder for the WHO to coordinate drug trials for treatments and vaccines as well as combat the pandemic in developing countries. 

Outside the coronavirus, Trump’s actions threaten the WHO’s efforts to provide expertise and coordination on health issues including polio, tuberculosis, HIV and malaria. 

Not participating in WHO decisionmaking would also ensure the U.S. loses its “seat at the table in shaping global practices and guidelines, crisis response operations, and partnerships,” said the Center For Global Development, a think tank focusing on reducing global inequality.

The military’s Africa Command is also concerned that withdrawing WHO funding could be used by China to expand its influence in Africa, the Nation reported.

Crucial quote

“I was just disgusted that we would terminate the relationship with WHO at a time when the only way we’re going to solve the Covid-19 pandemic is through the closer links to the WHO for international cooperation around disease control and vaccine development,” Hotez said.

Big number

15%, that’s the share of the WHO’s budget covered by the U.S, making it the organization’s largest contributor. 

Key background

Public health experts have criticized Trump for his coronavirus response, including the administration’s failure to ramp up testing in the early days of the pandemic and continuing to praise hydroxychloroquine, an unproven drug that may put patients in danger.

Further reading

Two Legal Experts Explain Why The U.S. Should Not Pull Funding From The WHO Amid COVID-19 Pandemic (Forbes)

An Infectious Disease Expert Explains Why The WHO Is Crucial For Fighting The Coronavirus Pandemic (Forbes)

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