April 15, 2020

The Trump administration’s plan to stop funding the World Health Organization (WHO) is a reckless move with global consequences. As we face the COVID-19 pandemic, coordinated global action is crucial. The International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) condemns the president’s decision.

“The administration’s decision to freeze funding is irresponsible and will have grave consequences for the health, rights, and well-being of women, girls, and marginalized people, who are already bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 crisis,” said IWHC President Françoise Girard. “Now more than ever the US must be supporting and collaborating with the WHO, not defunding and scapegoating.”

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, the WHO has provided steady leadership and invaluable technical support to countries worldwide. In addition to managing a global mitigation and containment strategy, the WHO has also been a leading voice for the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls, calling on governments to ensure access to quality sexual and reproductive health care, including abortion to the full extent of the law, in the midst of the pandemic.

This is not the Trump administration’s first attempt to undermine the World Health Organization. Since taking office, President Trump has ridiculed multilateralism and the UN system that forms its backbone. The US is currently $198 million behind in its membership dues to the WHO and, in the administration’s February budget proposal, requested a reduction from approximately $123 million to $58 million in funding to the organization.

While recent bills passed by Congress include funds for the global COVID-19 response, this decision may limit the ability of the WHO to access these funds. As the largest supporter of the WHO, a loss of US funding—even for 60 to 90 days—would be devastating for its efforts to combat COVID-19 and advance the health and well-being of people worldwide.

IWHC, which is in official relations with the WHO, will continue to work with the organization to ensure that all people can access the health care services they need and deserve.

Contact: Liza Kane-Hartnett; (+1) 917.498.3346

Photo: US Mission in Geneva