American Nurses Association Calls Decision to Halt Funding to WHO 'Misguided,' Implores Trump to Reconsider

The American Nurses Association (ANA) criticized President Donald Trump's controversial decision to halt U.S. funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) during the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump announced the funding hold during his Tuesday press briefing, suggesting that the international organization, which receives a major portion of its financing from the U.S., had mismanaged its response to the crisis. "With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have deep concerns whether America's generosity has been put to the best use possible," the president said.

But public health experts, medical practitioners and Democrats have pushed back against the decision.

"The decision to discontinue the United States funding for the World Health Organization at this time of the pandemic is misguided and will hinder global efforts to battle the coronavirus," ANA President Ernest Grant said in a Wednesday statement.

"International cooperation among governments and the scientific and health care communities is essential to halt the spread of the disease and share tools, strategies and solutions to mitigate its impact," he added.

WHO
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus delivers a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic from WHO headquarters in Geneva on March 30. AFP/Getty

The ANA's criticism followed similar concerns expressed by the American Medical Association (AMA).

"During the worst public health crisis in a century, halting funding to the World Health Organization is a dangerous step in the wrong direction that will not make defeating COVID-19 easier," AMA President Patrice Harris said in a Tuesday statement.

Speaking to CNN on Wednesday morning, Harris reiterated the AMA's position.

"This virus knows no boundaries. This is a global pandemic. It certainly requires global cooperation," she said. "Infections in other parts of the world could certainly impact us here in the United States. It has."

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, condemned Trump's decision, noting that it violated the law." This decision is dangerous, illegal and will be swiftly challenged," Pelosi said in a Wednesday statement.

Democrats argue that the funding hold violates the same law as Trump's efforts to withhold military aid from Ukraine, which spurred the House investigation leading to his impeachment. "We can only be successful in defeating this global pandemic through a coordinated international response with respect for science and data," Pelosi said.

But Republicans who back Trump's decision to withhold funding from the WHO argue that the international organization is biased in favor of China.

"The current WHO leadership has proven to be incompetent and shown overwhelming evidence of China bias," GOP Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina tweeted on Wednesday.

The WHO is led by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of Ethiopia, who assumed his role as director-general in 2017 after being backed by Beijing. Ghebreyesus has spoken positively about China's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, despite significant international criticism.