Health experts condemn Donald Trump's WHO funding freeze: 'Crime against humanity'
Leading health experts denounced President Donald Trump’s decision to halt U.S. funding for the World Health Organization amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump announced the move on Tuesday, accusing the WHO of failing “in its basic duty” to initially warn the world of the burgeoning public health crisis that is believed to have originated in China. Trump failed to acknowledge his own refusal to take action on pandemic warnings.
Lawrence Gostin, a global health law expert from Georgetown University, told MSNBC’s Ari Melber that “there’ll be many more deaths” without a WHO that’s empowered.
Gostin also predicted a further loss of U.S. global influence as a consequence of Trump’s move:
I predict the world will step into leadership vacuum @POTUS created by cutting @WHO funding. China, Europe etc will increase funding. Only loser is US b/c we will lose all our influence. In global health & amidst a pandemic, America will lose its voicehttps://t.co/ETl1DUexS3
— Lawrence Gostin (@LawrenceGostin) April 15, 2020
Richard Horton, the editor-in-chief of the Lancet medical journal, described Trump’s decision as “a crime against humanity,” tweeting “every scientist, every health worker, every citizen must resist and rebel against this appalling betrayal of global solidarity.”
“The president’s decision makes Americans less safe, let’s be clear about that,” Thomas Bollyky, the director of the Global Health Program at the Council on Foreign Relations, explained to CNN’s Don Lemon:
"The President's decision makes Americans less safe," says Tom Bollyky, director of the Global Health program at the Council on Foreign Relations, about President Trump's decision to halt funding to the World Health Organization. "This is a big mistake to go this route." pic.twitter.com/HRKXJpZxuW
— CNN Tonight (@CNNTonight) April 15, 2020
Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security, told Reuters that the WHO may indeed need to be reformed. But “it’s not the middle of a pandemic that you do this type of thing.”
CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta acknowledged the WHO made “missteps,” but warned cutting funds amid the pandemic would end up penalizing countries with weaker health care systems:
“Who are you really penalizing by these cuts?”@DrSanjayGupta says the World Health Organization made serious missteps in its coronavirus response but that cutting their funding in the middle of a pandemic could be costly. pic.twitter.com/pkom3Xx09N
— Cuomo Prime Time (@CuomoPrimeTime) April 15, 2020
American Medical Association President Dr. Patrice Harris warned halting funding “is a dangerous step in the wrong direction that will not make defeating COVID-19 easier.”
“Fighting a global pandemic requires international cooperation and reliance on science and data,” Harris said in a statement shared online. “Cutting funding to the WHO – rather than focusing on solutions – is a dangerous move at a precarious moment for the world.”
“The AMA is deeply concerned by this decision and its wide-ranging ramifications, and we strongly urge the President to reconsider,” Harris added.
Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, an infectious disease doctor and associate professor at Boston University’s school of medicine, tweeted that cutting the funding “is an absolute disaster.”
Cutting 15% (US Contribution) of WHO budget during the biggest projected pandemic of the last century is an absolute disaster. @WHO is a global technical partner, the platform through which sovereign countries share data/technology, our eyes on the global scope of this pandemic.
— Dr. Nahid Bhadelia (@BhadeliaMD) April 14, 2020
And Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates, who warned of a pandemic in a 2015 TED talk, said halting funding is “as dangerous as it sounds.”
“Their work is slowing the spread of COVID-19 and if that work is stopped no other organization can replace them,” Gates wrote, adding: “The world needs @WHO more than ever.”
Halting funding for the World Health Organization during a world health crisis is as dangerous as it sounds. Their work is slowing the spread of COVID-19 and if that work is stopped no other organization can replace them. The world needs @WHO now more than ever.
— Bill Gates (@BillGates) April 15, 2020