On Tuesday, 14 April 2020, U.S. President Donald Trump announced his decision to suspend funding for the World Health Organization (WHO) for 60-90 days, to allow for an assessment of the health body’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. This comes at a time when the entire world is racing against time to stem the spread of a disease that is causing widespread loss of life, tearing down public health systems,stretching the global health workforce to its limits and destroying economies and livelihoods.
While we applaud other goverments for continued funding of WHO and the welcome response from others to increase their contributions, the US Government remains a significant funding source for the operations of the WHO.
WHO is not only helping countries with managing responses to the pandemic, but also playing a critical role in supporting fragile health systems especially in low and middle-income economies which overall strengthens the Global Health Security Agenda for which the US government is a significant player. Reducing global support for WHO would put hundreds of millions of lives at risk both at home and globally. WHO funding is therefore crucial to fight not only COVID-19 but also other diseases among the world’s most vulnerable populations as well as provide a significant shield against the next pandemic.
We must not forget that WHO demonstrated invaluable leadership in the first ever Universal health Coverage UN Declaration in September 2019 which set the stage for a world where everyone shares a dream of access to quality health services without financial hardship irrespective of who they are and where they come from. A world that is just creating a foundation of armour against this and future pandemics.
No nation can overcome a pandemic on its own and so it is imperative that we stand unified in the face of what has the potential to cause unimaginable loss of life and damage to the very social and economic systems we have worked so hard to build and protect. We can only defeat this pandemic by working together across the globe. In order to achieve this, continuity, policy coherence and global solidarity are fundamental to save lives and create a healthier future in which the WHO plays a unique and crucial role in bringing nations together to create global solidairity and world-wide efforts. This is critical always and especially now./’/
Amref Health Africa stands behind the WHO and WHO Leadership for the efforts and commitment to ensuring the continuity of the institution’s work. We call upon the WHO’s partners to remain steadfast in their support of the organization and we commit to continue our joint longstanding collaboration.
The fight against the COVID-19 pandemic is not a sprint, it is a marathon to keep humanity safe from this pandemic and to prepare for the next pandemic. It is therefore in our best interest to run this race together in global solidarity, while leaving no one behind and the sooner the US reconsiders its unfortunate decision, the safer the world will be.
Dr. Githinji Gitahi
Global CEO – Amref Health Africa