In the April 23 Press Herald, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank scrutinizes the Administration’s failure to prepare for the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, he debunks the Administration’s effort to cast blame onto the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN’s specialized agency coordinating global action against disease since 1948. While this article is insightful, we should focus not on blaming, but on the dangerous, if not deadly, defunding of WHO. As members of the Maine Chapter of the United Nations Association of the USA, we advocate increased understanding of the UN system and continued USA funding for WHO’s work.

WHO has a long history of eradicating diseases and/or holding various diseases at bay, e.g., polio, measles, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS. It is the primary global institution with the technical capacity and mandate to support ALL countries. It needs our fullest support. A recent bipartisan poll found that when it comes to managing the response to international health crises like COVID-19, three quarters of Americans (77%) trust WHO above all other entities. Americans will be safer and healthier, if people at all corners of the globe continue to have access to the health services of WHO. We cannot do this work alone; the USA is not an island unto itself.

Defunding WHO in the midst of a global epidemic is not in the self-interest of the USA. Please urge our governmental and business leaders to demand that the Administration reverse course, and continue USA funding of the World Health Organization.

Lucinda E. White

board president,

Maine Chapter of the United Nations Association of the USA


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