Trump's WHO funding freeze puts the safety of billions of people at risk

After his irresponsible management undermined the American Covid-19 response, President Trump's decision to freeze WHO funding when the world needs it most puts the safety of billions of people at risk

WHO advice and technical analysis related to the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak is essential for front-line workers and public health officials.

Public Services International and our affiliates have been relying on the organisation's regular webinars and advisories to understand the required Personal Protective Equipment and measures needed to keep workers safe. More than 1000 health workers across the world have already died from the virus, with many under-funded, under-staffed health systems at breaking point.

In a recent letter to Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General, PSI General Secretary Rosa Pavanelli expressed solidarity with the organisation and described the lack of adequate PPE for workers as "an emergency within the emergency of the pandemic."

Rosa Pavenelli PSI General Secretary

Trump's heartless decision will have a disastrous impact on health workers and public health systems the world over.

The WHO is the key organsiation to develop the global solidarity we need to respond to this crisis - and unions and governments must now come to its defence.

The dangerous decision also deprives developing countries of the support they rely on to face the pandemic. Lawrence Gostin, professor of global health at Georgetown University told MSNBC “Without a WHO that’s empowered there will be many, many more deaths, and not just as it marches through sub-Saharan Africa, which is next, but also here in the United States.”

Leaders such as Trump should have learned lessons from the deadly Ebola outbreak in West-Africa, which killed hundreds of health-workers and revealed the need for global solidarity to fight virus outbreaks, which know no borders.

American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten slammed Trump's performance so far, saying:

“Trump calls himself a wartime president, but our states don’t have the funds or testing they need, and our hospitals and healthcare professionals remain dangerously ill-equipped to fight this pandemic.”

Budget pressures and politically-motivated funding cuts at UN agencies have lead to a concerning rise in the influence of corporations and foundations over organizational priorities and governance. Public health groups recently called on the International Labour Organization to reject funding from Phillip Morris, describing it as an attempt to "divert attention from the fact that tobacco production and consumption hinders progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)."

Pavanelli added: "We need the WHO and the whole UN system now more than ever. We must put aside vested interests and reinvigorate the original values and principals of the multilateral system. Member-states must stop putting lives at risk by playing political games with funding and stump up the budget needed to support the global response to this pandemic."

Time to rally behind the World Health Organization!

PSI comes together with civil society allies to support the call for multilateralism, solidarity, and science based health policy making at global and national level!

Read the full civil society statement

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