Press Release: U.S. Withdrawal From WHO Is Detrimental to Global Health

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June 3, 2020

Washington, DC – MedGlobal strongly disagrees with the announcement that the U.S. will end its relationship with the World Health Organization (WHO), made on May 29. This decision puts millions of lives at risk, particularly refugees, internally displaced persons, and other vulnerable communities, as the world struggles with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The U.S. has been a member of the WHO since it was established in 1948 and the largest contributor to its global health funding. The WHO is the United Nations’ health agency, and its mandate includes monitoring public health risks and coordinating responses to health emergencies. It has been the leading global body in the COVID-19 response, overseeing strategic preparedness and response as well as the provision of supplies, training, coordination, and capacity building alongside its government and NGO partners.

“This is a sad day for global health and the U.S. leadership. While the WHO is not a perfect agency, it is the most critical global body to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The WHO is leading the coordination of the global COVID-19 response and providing lifesaving assistance to those most in need. As MedGlobal supports communities facing humanitarian crises and disasters, we are acutely aware of the importance of the WHO on individual lives, and this decision will lead to lives lost,” said Dr. Zaher Sahloul, MedGlobal Co-founder and President.

“This is a critical moment. We have just seen the first death from COVID-19 in the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh. In Yemen, the rate of COVID-19 patients who die after becoming infected is nearly three times the global average. The U.S. has been a leading donor and member of the WHO since its establishment, and pulling out will exacerbate the deadly effects of COVID-19 among the most at-risk population like these,” said Dr. Hena Ibrahim, MedGlobal Executive Director.

MedGlobal provides free and life-saving healthcare to refugees, IDPs, and vulnerable communities in Bangladesh, Colombia, Greece, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, and Gaza, all of which are bracing for catastrophic effects of COVID-19 outbreaks. MedGlobal is also supporting marginalized communities in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic, including healthcare for Indigenous people in the Navajo Nation and a community testing site and safety net hospital for underserved populations in Chicago. The MedGlobal team is acting with urgency to support brave frontline health workers and vulnerable communities during this COVID-19 pandemic. 

For media inquiries, contact MedGlobal’s Advocacy Advisor Kat Fallon at fallon@medglobal.org.

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