The Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the World Health Organisation (WHO) will harm the health of “people around the world”, according to the Harvard Global Health Institute director, Dr Ashish K Jha.
On 29 May, President Donald Trump announced that the US would be terminating its relationship with the WHO and would redirect “those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs”.
Throughout the first months of the coronavirus pandemic, Mr Trump repeatedly criticised the WHO’s response to the crisis, and said they failed to adequately deal with the virus when it first emerged.
Dr Jha told the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on Tuesday that the withdrawal will “harm not only the health of people around the world, but also US leadership and scientific prowess”, according to New Kerela.
He added that it will ultimately “harm the health of the people at a time when Americans are getting sick and dying at an unprecedented rate”.
There has been a rise in coronavirus cases and deaths across the US in the past month, since most states reopened non-essential businesses.
This followed a couple of months of steady decline, as lockdowns were enforced across the country, and on Friday, the US recorded its highest daily total of coronavirus cases.
This has forced some states, including California, Texas and Nevada, to halt any further easing of measures and to enforce extra requirements to get the virus under control.
Speaking at the Senate Committee on Tuesday, Dr Jha said that “leaving WHO also separates the US from much of the leading research and development around Covid-19.
“Scientists from countries around the world turn to WHO to share samples and collaborate on quickly building an evidence base,” he added.
WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has called for “global solidarity” to tackle the pandemic, and Dr Jha added that the US leaving the organisation undermines this, as they are a big contributor of funding.
“The US provides about 15 per cent of WHO’s funding. It is clear that cutting US ties with WHO significantly hampers WHO’s ability to execute on its mission,” he said.
Mr Ghebreyesus responded to the Trump administration’s withdrawal on 1 June, and said: “The US government and people’s contribution and generosity towards global health over many decades has been immense.
“It has made a great difference in public health all around the world. It is WHO’s wish for this collaboration to continue.”
According to a tracking project hosted by Johns Hopkins University, there are now more than 2.6 million people who have tested positive for coronavirus in the US. The death toll has reached at least 127,457.