U.S. Makes Drastic Misstep by Withdrawing From World Health Organization (Who), Says Leading Jewish Global Human Rights Group

American Jewish World Service (AJWS) says WHO can protect vulnerable people around the world in a pandemic

On July 7, 2020, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo moved to officially withdraw the United States from the World Health Organization (WHO), a year-long undertaking that will occur as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread in the U.S. and abroad. This process began on April 14, when President Trump announced he would withhold U.S. funding to the WHO pending an investigation into the organization. In response to this new development, Rori Kramer, Director of U.S. Advocacy at American Jewish World Service, issued the following statement:

“We are outraged that the Trump administration is rejecting science and public health, embracing nationalism and politicizing international institutions when global coordination is essential to fighting the pandemic. Publicly attacking and defunding the WHO will threaten the health and lives of Americans, as well as vulnerable communities across the Global South.

“Since January, the WHO has played a central role in coordinating the global response to COVID-19. The WHO has emphasized the primacy of testing, isolation, and contact tracing as key to beating the virus; it has conducted independent research while synthesizing national response efforts to find lifesaving treatments. Further, the WHO provides critical technical and capacity support to fragile healthcare systems across the world, to keep COVID-19 from spreading uncontrollably. The impulsive Trump administration choice to withdraw from the WHO will undoubtedly cost lives, domestically and abroad.

“We also are concerned that abandoning the WHO will undermine the global progress made on sexual and reproductive health and rights over the past several decades. The WHO works to improve access to contraception, decrease the incidence of violence against women and girls, promote maternal and newborn health, and bolster the supply chain for reproductive and sexual health commodities. It advocates for the unique health needs of LGBTQI+ individuals and sex workers. These services are especially critical as the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted supply chains and healthcare access while magnifying existing discrimination towards marginalized groups.

“As a faith-based organization dedicated to the inherent dignity of every human being, we stand with the WHO as it defends access to healthcare for vulnerable communities, including women, girls, LGBTQI+ people, sex workers, HIV+ people, refugees and migrants, ethnic minorities, and indigenous peoples. As the Trump administration pursues an anti-science and isolationist agenda, we urge Congress to not only provide robust funding to the WHO, but to also signal U.S. support for its work and global health goals. To do otherwise will undoubtably cost millions of lives.”


About American Jewish World Service (AJWS)

American Jewish World Service (AJWS) is the leading Jewish organization working to fight poverty and pursue justice in the developing world. By supporting hundreds of social change organizations in 19 countries, we respond to the most pressing issues of our time—from disasters, genocide and hunger, to the persecution of women and minorities worldwide. With Jewish values and a global reach, AJWS is making a difference in millions of lives and bringing a more just and equitable world closer for all.



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