United Nations Foundation President and CEO Elizabeth Cousens released the following statement in response to the U.S. formal notification of withdrawal from the World Health Organization (WHO):
“The Administration’s move to formally withdraw from WHO amid the greatest public health crisis that Americans and the world have faced in a century is short-sighted, unnecessary, and unequivocally dangerous. WHO is the only body capable of leading and coordinating the global response to COVID-19. Terminating the U.S. relationship would undermine the global effort to beat this virus – putting all of us at risk.
“The U.S. already has more confirmed cases of COVID-19 than any country in the world, and as cases continue to surge in hotspots at home and abroad it’s painfully clear that this pandemic is far from over. It’s never been more urgent to ensure WHO has the support and resources it needs to continue its life-saving work. While the early days of the pandemic response were far from perfect, world governments and the WHO Director-General have already committed to a full, independent evaluation from which we will all learn critical lessons. We urge the U.S. Congress to support continued U.S. funding for WHO – both assessed and voluntary contributions – in keeping with generations of U.S. bipartisan leadership on global health.
“A U.S. withdrawal from WHO would also jeopardize decades of hard-won progress on other critical global health priorities that matter to Americans – from expanding access to vaccines to fighting diseases like polio, malaria, and HIV/AIDS, and working to strengthen health systems everywhere. Those priorities are not only shared the world over but have decades of bipartisan support in the United States.
“The World Health Organization was created with U.S. leadership nearly 75 years ago when the world was reeling from war. As the world faces the global emergency of COVID-19, we need to strengthen, not weaken, the bonds of international cooperation and solidarity. Now, more than ever before, the world needs to unite with common purpose and work shoulder to shoulder to emerge from these challenging times stronger and more united than ever before. This is not a time to retreat, it’s a time for leadership.”