The National Council of Churches (USA) and World Council of Churches are 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 are 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 with regard to 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."
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