A global pandemic is not the time to cut funding to World Health Organization, says doctor who's worked there
This column is an opinion by Dr. Ali Okhowat, who is a former health emergency officer of the World Health Organization and a physician in New Westminster, B.C. For more information about CBC's Opinion section, please see the FAQ.
With more than 2.4 million cases and 163,000 deaths confirmed globally, the COVID-19 pandemic has made tragically clear the importance of having strong disease surveillance and public health systems.
I previously served as a proud member of WHO's Health Emergencies Program at its headquarters in Geneva and its Eastern Mediterranean regional office in Cairo. My work there has made it clear to me that there is no international institution better positioned to do this critical work other than the World Health Organization.
Whether it was alarming cases of neonatal hypothermia in Syria, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa or the ravaging effects of war on Yemen's health system, I experienced first-hand the critical role that WHO plays in helping communities to prevent, respond to and recover from all types of health hazards.
That's why it's so concerning to see the WHO's biggest funder, the United States, halt funding to the organization — in the midst of a pandemic — and to see politicians like Andrew Scheer challenge Canada's use of WHO data.