June 8, 2020 (WASHINGTON) – This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs Lester Munson, Larry Nowels, and Tessie San Martin.
The Modernizing Foreign Assistance is deeply concerned about the proposed withdrawal of the United States from the World Health Organization (WHO) and we urge the Trump administration to reverse course. Backing away from this highly important, although imperfect, tool for fighting the global pandemic undermines the health and safety people around world, including the American people.
The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented global challenge, with potentially catastrophic health, economic, and humanitarian consequences. MFAN recently issued its recommendations for ‘Responding Effectively to the Global COVID-19 Crisis,’ which noted that investments in multilateral institutions are critical tools for enabling the U.S. to shape the global response agenda. Bilateral foreign assistance has an important role in addressing this crisis, but it is not sufficient: effectively addressing a global pandemic also requires enhanced international cooperation. The WHO plays an important role in fostering this cooperation; terminating our relationship with and funding to the WHO would significantly undermine the very global cooperation that is necessary to effectively combat the pandemic.
Rather than abandoning the World Health Organization, the United States should work to improve it, to ensure that past failings are corrected and that future cooperation is as effective as possible. Failure to do so will not only harm the important technical assistance programs carried out by WHO, but will also weaken global cooperation to address COVID -19 and, by extension, will ultimately undermine the effectiveness of bilateral U.S. foreign assistance to combat COVID-19, both at home and abroad.