Apr. 16, 2020

US church leaders, WCC dismayed and urge reversal of Trump’s suspension of WHO funding.

US church leaders, WCC dismayed and urge reversal of Trump’s suspension of WHO funding.
US church leaders, WCC dismayed and urge reversal of Trump’s suspension of WHO funding
Photo: WCC

16 April 2020

The National Council of Churches (USA) is urging President Donald Trump to reverse his decision to suspend funding from the World Health Organization.

“This is dangerous, immoral and wrong,” reads a statement from the council. “Even though international institutions such as the WHO is not perfect, suspension of funding … is irresponsible and ill-timed.”

Jim Winkler, president and general secretary of the National Council of Churches, said he is proud that the US is to date the largest WHO funder. “Whatever improvements that can be made in WHO are worthy of consideration but right now, as the entire world is fighting the coronavirus, it is not the time to suspend our funding,” he said. "That would be a disaster.”

Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer, governing board chair of the National Council of Churches called upon Trump to take back his words and not cut funding. “We owe the world more than that – and our contributions to world health are a moral obligation we cannot walk away from,” said Dorhauer.

World Council of Churches acting general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr. Ioan Sauca expressed deep dismay that blame concerning the coronavirus response is being shifted to WHO—the best instrument currently available for a coordinated and coherent global response to this common crisis.

"We are alarmed that precisely at this critical juncture when this instrument should be strengthened and made more effective in the face of such an unprecedented threat, it is being deliberately undermined," said Sauca. “This will not serve the interests of the people of the world.”

Leaders from the National Council of Churches (USA) and the World Council of Churches agreed that the COVID-19 pandemic is beyond the means of any nation to control, let alone defeat because the world is dealing with a new disease about which much is yet to be understood. Overcoming it will require international solidarity, coordination, and reliance on science and data at the global level—a role for WHO, which should be supported and strengthened.

When this crisis has passed, the world should work together to identify needed reforms in the global health architecture, added Sauca. “But now, the urgent need is for the spread of the virus to be contained, and its threat managed, using all available instruments," he said. “Uncounted lives and livelihoods depend on it.”

Link to the full statement from the National Council of Churches in the US

WCC landing page: Coping with the Coronavirus