Religions for Peace: US Must Continue to Fund WHO

Religions for Peace USA, the largest and most-broadly-based representative multi-religious forum in the United States, is deeply concerned and alarmed to hear of President Donald J. Trump’s decision to halt funding for World Health Organization (WHO) in the midst of a global pandemic. We believe this decision is immoral and puts more Americans and people around the world at risk. RFPUSA, therefore, urges the US immediately to reverse President Trump’s decision to halt US funding for WHO and to send its full budgeted financial support.

WHO is the leading international organization fighting the COVID-19 global pandemic. The United States is the largest single governmental contributor to WHO. Curtailing US funding at this time to WHO is dangerous to the health of Americans as well as citizens of other countries of the world.

We live in an interdependent world and this global pandemic is a reminder to humanity of our interconnectedness – which requires a global response rather than each country independently reacting to the pandemic without a central coordinating agency. This is a moment for greater world partnership and cooperation on global health and not a time to politicize such an issue.  The pandemic has exposed deep inequalities of vulnerability and defunding WHO only will exacerbate that gap between privileged and marginalized people.

WHO was the first international agency to alert the world to Coronavirus on January 5 and shared its genetic sequence with all nations on January 12. It also made available educational materials and offered test kits.  The United States government decided soon after the announcement not to use the WHO testing kits – which resulted in initial manufacturing defects and inconclusive test results – resulting in significant loss of time and potential increased deaths in the US.

We call upon all our elected officials–Democrats and Republicans alike– to work together for the common good of all Americans as well as people around the world, and to ensure that the US continues to provide funding to WHO and other key international organizations. In the US context, we also want to voice our support for Asians and Asian American communities – which have been at the receiving end of backlash from fellow Americans over the alleged national origin of the coronavirus – and for the many marginalized Americans whose health has disproportionately suffered due to unequal access to proper healthcare.

Religions for Peace USA (RFPUSA) is the largest and most broadly-based representative multi-religious forum in the United States, with participants from more than 45 religious communities, including the United Church of Christ, representing diversity within each of the major faith traditions and many of the minor ones. The mission of RFPUSA is to inspire and advance common actions for peace through multi-religious cooperation among our nation’s religious communities. More information at www.rfpusa.org.

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RFPUSA member organization statements on this matter are linked below:

National Council of Churches