As the Trump administration officially begins taking steps to withdraw the USA from the World Health Organization (WHO), Sanhita Ambast, Amnesty International’s Advisor on Economic, Social and Cultural rights, said:
“This is a reckless attempt to undermine the work of the World Health Organization in the midst of a global pandemic. With COVID-19 still tearing through many US states, the Trump administration is using people’s lives as pawns in an ill-conceived political manoeuvre.
“This decision will have negative impacts on efforts to control the pandemic in countries all around the world, and also for the other essential health care programs that WHO supports.
“Only if the international community works together can we bring this virus under control and ensure that everyone can access adequate health care. We call on other countries to step up and ensure that the global effort to respond to the pandemic and other health crises remains well funded.
“President Trump has accused WHO of mishandling the pandemic. The USA should engage with the organization on its concerns, instead of backing out at this key moment. The current pattern of withdrawing from international bodies and treaties is callous and risks harming the rights and lives people all over the world. We urge the Trump administration to reconsider and show that the USA is still committed to upholding international public health.”
The WHO is the primary international body with a mandate to support global public health. In addition to playing a key role in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, it implements numerous programmes to prevent, control, and treat Ebola, measles, malaria, HIV and AIDS, and many other diseases. The USA is currently the WHO’s largest contributor.
Under President Trump, the USA has withdrawn from the UN Human Rights Council, the UN cultural agency (UNESCO) and the global accord to tackle climate change.