Media release: Leading Public Health Organizations Petition the United States Government for Continued US Support of WHO
Atlanta, GA., June 30, 2020 –Leading United States-based public health organizations today petitioned the United States Government to reverse its decision and continue as a supporting member of the World Health Organization (WHO) to continue advances in global health that benefit all nations, including the United States.
The WHO has been a key player in setting global public health priorities and developing medical and public health guidance since its founding in 1948. It serves as a trusted advisor to ministries of health in scaling up essential and effective prevention, treatment and care services; provides technical assistance particularly for low- and middle-income countries with large burdens of infectious diseases and risks for emergence of new pathogens; has played a critical role in the eradication of smallpox, near eradication of polio, regional elimination of measles, and advancement toward elimination of viral hepatitis, HIV, TB, malaria, and neglected tropical diseases which pose significant threats to people around the world, including the United States; and coordinates the response to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
In April, the United States Government announced it would halt all funding to WHO and in May the United States announced it would terminate its relationship. The United States has since put into motion a formal withdrawal as a member from the institution, joining Lichtenstein as the only two countries who are not members of WHO.
In response, the Coalition for Global Hepatitis Elimination at the Task Force for Global Health and Resolve to Save Lives started a petition to express their support for WHO and the vital role it plays. Other signatories include PATH, Association of Schools of Public Health and Programs, National Association of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD), International Antiviral Society- USA, Treatment Action Group, Trust for America’s Health, Infectious Disease Society of America, Hepatitis B Foundation, Hep B United, National Tuberculosis Controllers Association, HIV Medicine Association, American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable, the HIV and Hep Policy Institute, American Thoracic Society, Global Liver Institute, Partners in Health, and IAPAC.
These institutions work closely with the World Health Organization and are concerned about both the short-term consequences during the pandemic and long-term consequences for global public health. These include the diminishment of WHO’s capability to manage the global COVID-19 pandemic response and provide assistance to low- and middle-income countries; reversal in progress of elimination and control programs including hepatitis, HIV, TB, malaria, and neglected tropical diseases; and erosion of United States’ leadership and influence in global health policy.
“To protect our nation’s health, the US government must work with WHO to respond to emerging threats like COVID-19 and continue to eliminate hepatitis and other global scourges. Working globally protects America’s health locally,” says Dr. John Ward, Director of the Coalition for Global Hepatitis Elimination.
The organizations call on the United States Government to take the following actions:
Continue participation in WHO as a Member State; Continue participation in the WHO Executive Board, the World Health Assembly and fulfill all leadership and oversight responsibilities of WHO priorities and operations; Continue provision of technical experts and other resources that support WHO response to new infectious health threats and assistance to programs advancing progress toward communicable disease elimination; and Continue support of WHO through voluntary and assessed contributions at a level equal to or greater than that provided in FY 2017.
View the petition at www.globalhep.org/USG-WHO-petition.
Gabriella Corrigan, Task Force for Global Health: gcorrigan [at] taskforce.org
Lindsey Hiebert, Coalition for Global Hepatitis Elimination: lhiebert [at] taskforce.org
About the Task Force for Global Health
The Task Force for Global Health is an independent, 501(c)3, nongovernmental organization that exists to eliminate diseases that have plagued humankind for centuries and build the systems necessary to protect the health of entire populations. Based in Decatur, GA, The Task Force's programs focus on eliminating diseases like neglected tropical diseases, polio, and viral hepatitis and strengthening health systems through disease surveillance, information systems, medicines, medical equipment, operational research, seasonal influenza programs, pandemic preparedness, and vaccines. With partnerships and collaboration at the core of The Task Force's work, they help develop global health policies, utilize scientific and technological advances, practice deep compassion, and focus their work around the final-mile orientation to stop diseases and make a real impact by solving massive health problems so that all people can realize their right to living a healthy life.
About the Coalition for Global Hepatitis Elimination at The Task Force for Global Health
The Coalition for Global Hepatitis was launched in 2019 to accelerate progress towards HBV and HCV elimination. The Coalition is made up of over 100 HBV and HCV implementing programs, technical partners, and public and private partners. The Coalition brings together information on ongoing elimination activities, data, and best evidence for program implementation, in addition to providing technical assistance and operational research support. More information can be found at www.globalhep.org.