Currently, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) integral role in public health is two-fold: it is supporting and guiding how countries across the globe respond to the myriad of challenges that COVID-19 brings and also how they prevent, treat and protect their citizens from other diseases. For over half a century, WHO has been an invaluable resource for countries in their efforts to protect the most vulnerable and marginalised groups to cope with public health threats, including helping eradicate smallpox and fight against challenges like HIV/AIDS and Ebola.
WHO needs support from all its members to carry out its mission and any reduction in that could lead to devastating results both in the current pandemic, and damaging progress towards shaping a healthier world. Action for Global Health condemns the US Government’s announcement to cut ties with WHO. As the largest contributor to WHO (providing approximately 15% of its budget), the withdrawal of U.S. funding will impact the agency’s work in saving lives across the world.
COVID-19 is highlighting that no country can work alone to combat a global health threat; we are only as strong as our weakest health system. We call on the UK Government to continue to work with other governments to ensure the WHO is fully funded and to take a leading role in championing international collaboration and cooperation through WHO and other global health mechanisms. Only in this way will we defeat the virus everywhere and ensure we are truly leaving no one behind.