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WHO Withdrawal Is Contemptible, Reprehensible

Statement of Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen

Note: President Donald Trump today officially withdrew the U.S. from the World Health Organization (WHO), according to news reports.

The coronavirus pandemic calls for global solidarity, with countries joining together to address a common public health threat. The world needs lots of information sharing about how to mitigate the spread of the disease, and research and knowledge sharing to rush forward treatments and vaccines.

There is one global agency that can carry out this agenda: The World Health Organization.

Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out the WHO will leave the U.S. and the world less able to confront the pandemic. It is contemptible and reprehensible. His irrational petulance – lashing out and blaming others because the coronavirus doesn’t yield to his predictions that it simply will “go away” – will lead to needless and avoidable death and suffering. That’s true for death and disease related to the coronavirus – but also cancer, diabetes, traffic accidents, unsafe drugs, insufficient access to essential medicines, tobacco-related disease and more.

Trump can build walls around the U.S. a hundred feet high, but the coronavirus doesn’t care a whit. This is a global crisis, and it requires global solutions. Withdrawing from the WHO isn’t just morally wrong – and it won’t just hurt other countries – it is counterproductive to protecting public health in the U.S.

The WHO has many imperfections, but this decision has nothing to do with the agency’s performance. It is simply more Trump scapegoating, unfortunately, at the expense of the well-being of people around the world.