ICRW Calls On U.S. Global Health Leadership To Continue Investment in WHO


Media Contact

Anne McPherson

Vice President, Global Communications email [email protected]

Washington, D.C. (July 7, 2020) – The International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) calls on the Trump Administration to reverse its decision to end the long-standing relationship with the World Health Organization (WHO).

The United States (U.S.) is in the midst of the most pervasive pandemic the world has seen since 1918. Now is not the time to cut ties with the WHO, as COVID-19 continues to spread worldwide. We need all hands on deck, and with WHO’s broad reach and in-depth expertise, severing the relationship could have a devastating impact.

“COVID-19 is having a ripple effect around the globe, and continues to expose deeply rooted systemic inequities,” said ICRW President Sarah Degnan Kambou. “In the U.S. itself, the pandemic is disproportionately impacting communities of color and the elderly. And as restrictions are lifting in some states, we are seeing spikes in infection, particularly among people under the age of 40 who are increasingly returning to work and face mixed signals on social distancing guidelines. The impact of the pandemic’s social and economic disruption is compounded by the heightened burden of care for children and the current complexities of caring for the elderly and those who are sick – burdens that fall disproportionately on women worldwide.”

The WHO plays a major role in combatting public health threats globally. The organization’s global health network, capacity to respond quickly in crisis, and ability both to lend a hand to hard-to-reach communities and scale up treatments and training goes unparalleled.

Without the WHO’s support, the United States does not have the capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to health risks efficiently and effectively. Healthcare providers and communities worldwide, particularly those already stretched to meet the needs of those they serve, will be hard-pressed to meet increasing demands during COVID-19. And we rely on the WHO to research and prepare for the healthcare challenges of tomorrow.

“The fact that the current U.S. administration is withdrawing support from the WHO,” said ICRW Africa Director Dr. Cleopatra Mugyenyi, “will have far reaching implications across the continent. During previous health crises like Ebola and HIV, and in more localised outbreaks, the WHO has played a key role in the response to these diseases. Governments, civil society, and other partners are working together to develop effective responses to the COVID-19 pandemic’s trajectory across the region by drafting policy and augmenting health and social services. By cutting ties and funding for the WHO, the U.S. will effectively hinder progress made thus far and pull essential support from already strapped heathcare systems. We urge the U.S. to reconsider.”

ICRW calls on the United States Congress to investigate the effects of this drastic decision and asks the Administration to revert to a meaningful relationship with the WHO. The challenges that face us now and going forward must be met by strength in numbers.