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Cutting Funding to the WHO is Sadistic, Spiteful and Stupid

Statement of Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen

Note: President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that he is halting funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) amid the worst public health crisis in a century. 

This decision is sadistic, spiteful, stupid and self-defeating.

There’s little doubt that Trump’s motive in cutting off WHO funding is to divert attention away from his own shocking failures in managing the coronavirus crisis – failures that already have cost thousands of lives and threaten many more.

For the coronavirus, and public health generally, the WHO is a vital leader for countries around the world, especially poorer countries that rely on its guidance, expertise and assistance. Of course it is an agency with flaws, but it serves a vital mission and plays a lifesaving role around the world – especially now. Cutting funding from the agency will diminish its ability to do its job and puts at risk the lives and well-being of countless people around the world.

At this time of a global pandemic – of which the U.S. is the epicenter – we need international cooperation and collaboration more than ever. This is the time the U.S. should be building up and increasing support for the WHO, as it advises countries on how to curb the pandemic and seeks to prevent the unleashing of a massive public health disaster in developing countries. The U.S. should be working with the WHO on pooling knowledge and resources for rapid development and global deployment of an effective vaccine.

Above all, we must recognize that in this crisis, we truly all are in it together. Even if the U.S. is finally able to gain some semblance of control over the disease, the spread of the coronavirus in other countries will make it impossible to prevent new spikes in the U.S. and impossible to truly reopen our economy. This is a time that demands global solidarity.