It is critical for the U.S. to continue its funding for the World Health Organization in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic given the WHO’s lead role in coordinating an international response, especially in developing countries. The WHO’s leadership in helping to curb the pandemic in other countries undoubtedly benefits the United States as well, as we cannot begin to fully recover here until the threat of the pandemic subsides in other nations. Even a temporary halt in U.S. funding would have a potentially damaging impact on the WHO’s essential activities and global health security.

Continued funding to the WHO is critical to ensure global access to primary care and essential medicines; train the health workforce; improve monitoring and prepare for future public health emergencies; prevent noncommunicable diseases; and promote mental health, among countless other important services. Any threat to WHO’s funding could cut off a lifeline for low- and middle-income countries and place hundreds of millions of people at risk.

The U.S. has long been a leader in global health, and we must not reverse course now. For more than 20 years, the National Academies have conducted periodic assessments of U.S. strategic priorities in global health to inform federal policymakers. Our 2017 report Global Health and the Future Role of the United States concluded that “the U.S. government should maintain its leadership position in global health as a matter of urgent national interest and as a global public benefit that enhances America’s international standing.” The National Academies stand ready to evaluate U.S. investment in global health, but the nation’s commitment to funding the WHO should not waver during this pandemic.

Marcia McNutt
President, National Academy of Sciences

John L. Anderson
President, National Academy of Engineering

Victor J. Dzau
President, National Academy of Medicine

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