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WHO should be strengthened, not weakened

The Australian Greens have condemned US President Donald Trump’s announcement this week that the United States will withdraw critical funding from the World Health Organisation (WHO), and cautions the Australian government from signalling any similar action.

As the international body responsible for coordinating the world’s response to pandemics like the current COVID-19 crisis, it is critical that governments maintain their financial commitments to the organisation. 

Australia has a crucial leadership role in our region in particular, to demonstrate steadfast commitment to the WHO and other international bodies. It is through the WHO and other global organisations that wealthy nations like Australia and the US can share capacity, information and resources so that countries have a fighting chance of withstanding this crisis. 

Gutting the WHO of critical funding will do nothing but further cripple its ability to provide support in the fight against this lethal virus.

“As we face a global health emergency, it is essential that the WHO is properly funded and resourced to coordinate an international response. Now more than ever it is critical that we have international cooperation and a coordinated response to the pandemic.” Greens health spokesperson Dr Richard Di Natale said.

“In the aftermath of this crisis there will be many lessons to learn from how the world responded to the pandemic and what we can do better. This is appropriate, but if Mr Trump thinks cutting funding is the answer he is dangerously wrong. Trump is seeking to hide behind the WHO for his own disastrous response to the pandemic, which has led to thousands of unnecessary deaths.”

 “The usual suspects on Scott Morrison's backbench and some members of the Labor party have lined up to support Trump's dangerous blame-shifting. Scott Morrison must now reject this, and commit that Australia will not reduce funding to the WHO.”

Greens International Aid and Development spokesperson Senator Mehreen Faruqi said: 

“Organisations like the WHO are critical to our global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Divisive leaders like Trump will not get us on the other side of this, our collective global community work will.

“Australia’s aid and development funding is already pitifully low. We should be looking to increase our contributions to bolster public health around the world, not reduce them.

"It's shameful and frankly embarrassing to see the Trump-wannabes of the Liberal party step into action whenever the US president does or says anything. The prime minister must reject this bizarre and dangerous way of making policy decisions, and rule out any further cuts to Australia's aid contributions to the WHO.

“We live in a grossly unequal world and wealthy countries like Australia have an obligation to contribute to the global response this pandemic requires. That necessarily involves continuing to fund the WHO and working to ensure a strong international effort against COVID-19.”

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