IntraHealth, Frontline Health Workers Coalition Urge US Policymakers to Maintain WHO Ties

IntraHealth International joins the Frontline Health Workers Coalition in urging US policymakers to restore the US’s affiliation with the World Health Organization (WHO) and to cease moving forward on terminating the relationship.

On July 6, the Trump Administration began the year-long process to officially terminate the US relationship with the World Health Organization. This decision threatens global health security and will impede the US and other countries in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and other critical health needs.

“We are strongly opposed to this decision,” says Polly Dunford, president and CEO of IntraHealth. “Right now, more than ever, frontline health workers need support. Rarely have they faced such danger on such a massive scale. We have an obligation to keep them safe so we can all continue fighting this pandemic and be ready for any health emergencies the future may bring. We also need to maintain the powerful progress we’ve made in improving health around the world. Our global pandemic response and progress on health care will suffer if the US cuts ties with the WHO.”

Around the world there are now almost 13 million cases of COVID-19 and the virus has killed more than 570,000 people, according to the WHO’s July 14 situation report.

"We have an obligation to keep frontline health workers safe so we can all continue fighting this pandemic."

The WHO is leading the global effort to combat the pandemic. It tracks the spread of the disease across borders. It provides crucial guidance and skills-building so health workers can effectively prevent, detect, and respond to the disease. And it leads a coordinated effort to develop a vaccine.

The US has a history of generosity in its response to global health security, was crucial in the creation of the WHO, and has been its largest funder. The Frontline Health Workers Coalition foresees that the decision to withdraw the US from the WHO will hinder the US’s ability to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and to future global health threats, domestically and globally.

WHO collaboration is key to the success of US government programming led by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Office of the US Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy, and the US Agency for International Development in meeting US global health goals, including ending preventable child and maternal deaths and achieving epidemic control of HIV.

The WHO has been a vital partner in the Frontline Health Workers Coalition’s efforts to ensure frontline health workers are prioritized in global and national health policies toward meeting these global health goals. Frontline health workers are often the first and only link to essential health services for millions of people, yet the WHO estimates we are facing a global shortage of 18 million health workers by 2030, mostly in low- and lower-middle income countries.

The WHO works with countries to build stronger national health workforces that can promptly respond when an outbreak such as COVID-19 arises and that also provide essential health services every day, including prenatal care, safe delivery, childhood immunizations, treatment for noncommunicable diseases, and HIV services.

Through supporting countries to expand education and training for health workers, improve health worker retention, and collect high-quality health workforce data for decision-making, the WHO helps countries develop sustainable solutions to address health workforce shortages.

The WHO led on developing the first-ever global strategy for the health workforce, Workforce 2030, aimed at ensuring access to health workers for all, and established the Global Health Workforce Network to foster coordination and alignment on implementation of this strategy globally.

IntraHealth joins the Frontline Health Workers Coalition in standing with the WHO in supporting frontline health workers to respond to global health threats like COVID-19 and to increase access to essential health services. US support for the WHO is critical to protect the health of all people in the US and around the world.

Read: The Frontline Health Workers Coalition Urges Continued United States Investment and Engagement in the World Health Organization

IntraHealth International serves as the secretariat for the Frontline Health Workers Coalition.