Rep. Bera Statement on President Trump Formally Withdrawing from the World Health Organization
WASHINGTON, DC - Rep. Ami Bera, M.D. (D-CA) Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation released the following statement after President Trump formally withdrew the United States from the World Health Organization (WHO).
“Communities around the United States are grappling with increasing cases of coronavirus and instead of funding a national testing strategy and ramping up testing and contact tracing, the President has chosen to cut testing and to shift the blame by withdrawing the United States from the WHO.
No response has been perfect, including the WHO’s. But the WHO is playing a critical role by coordinating the global response and providing important guidance and information about the virus. It is this information and guidance that has helped countries in Europe and Asia tackle and contain the virus. They bent the curve. Our cases are increasing. If the WHO is to blame: why has the U.S. been left behind while many countries from South Korea to New Zealand to Vietnam to Germany return to normal?
That answer starts at the White House. Time and time again, even before COVID-19, the President has downplayed the danger of pandemics. They proposed cuts to the CDC and DoD pandemic preparedness programs, which I helped reverse. They disbanded the National Security Council office responsible for preparing for these outbreaks, which I opposed. They tried to cut funds to defeat Ebola during an actual Ebola outbreak, which Congress rolled back. Is it any surprise that when a pandemic came, this President was not prepared?
Historically, the United States and the World Health Organization have worked hand in hand. We helped defeat smallpox and nearly eliminated polio. We used to lead the world in combatting infectious disease. Those efforts aligned and supported WHO’s efforts. Not this time.
America lost its best chance to defeat this virus once the President began to minimize the pandemic and shift blame onto others, instead of assuming responsibility and actually leading our country through this crisis. Today’s decision comes as no surprise.”
Rep. Bera has been a leader in Congress on global health security. He chaired the first congressional hearing on the coronavirus on Feb. 5th, sounded the alarm after the Trump Administration disbanded the global health security office in the National Security Council in 2018, and is a member on the CSIS Commission on Strengthening America’s Health Security, which in November 2019 made a series of recommendations to prevent pandemics.