LONDON — Government officials and scientists from around the world on Saturday criticized President Trump for severing ties with the World Health Organization during the global pandemic.
Jens Spahn, Germany’s health minister, tweeted that Trump’s decision to terminate the United States’ relationship with the organization was “a disappointing backlash for International Health.”
Spahn added that the WHO “needs reform” if it is to make “any difference for the future.” The “EU must take a leading role and engage more financially” in the WHO, he said, adding that this would be priority when Germany takes over the E.U. presidency in July.
South Africa’s Health Minister Zweli Mkhize called the move “unfortunate.”
“Certainly, when faced with a serious pandemic, you want all nations in the world to be particularly focused … on one common enemy,” he said, according to the Associated Press.
A number of scientists from the international community also stepped forward to voice their support for the organization.
Peter Doherty, a Nobel laureate and founder of the Doherty Institute, which has played a prominent role in Australia’s response to the crisis, tweeted that the WHO is “central to the global fight against COVID-19.” He added that the “leadership has seemed over-cautious in some of its statements,” but said that “much of the real, essential work of the WHO” goes on at lower, professional levels.
Gail Carson, director of network development at the International Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infection Consortium, warned that a pandemic was “not the time” to make health political.
Richard Horton, the editor of the Lancet medical journal based in the United Kingdom, wrote: “We give our 100% support to the World Health Organisation at this time of crisis.”
“The US government has gone rogue at a time of humanitarian emergency,” he wrote.