NEW YORK – In response to President Trump’s formal notice of withdrawal from the World Health Organization (WHO), fulfilling his threat to terminate the U.S. relationship with the United Nations agency tasked with global public health, Donna McKay, executive director of Physicians for Human Rights, said the following:
“As the world wrestles with a pandemic that has killed more than half a million people, one-fourth of whom are in the United States, President Trump has made the deeply misguided, disastrous decision to withdraw the United States from the World Health Organization. The WHO plays a vital role in providing global lifesaving assistance and coordination that includes vaccine development, preparedness, and health systems strengthening.
“In its efforts to respond to the global health emergency we now face, as well as to enduring and chronic health crises, the WHO relies on the support and investment of the entire global community. By excising itself from this community, the United States isolates itself and destroys its own opportunity – and responsibility – to positively impact global health, and, furthermore, jeopardizes the health of millions around the globe, including in the United States.
“In weakening its collaboration with other countries and the WHO and creating an isolationist position, the United States is missing the opportunity to fulfill its historic role as a leader and influential global partner. The United States should focus on engaging in robust information-sharing on transmission rates, mitigation strategies, vaccine development, and equitable access to medical equipment, vaccines, and treatment. While the president’s authority to withdraw the United States from the WHO is under dispute, both the rhetoric and withdrawal can have devastating consequences.”
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.