When President Trump announced a hold on US funding for the WHO (World Health Organization), nearly every single public health expert objected for the straightforward reason that COVID-19 does not respect borders. So long as the virus exists anywhere in the world, it is a threat to the American homeland.
To the extent that the World Health Organization is the entity that is helping countries around the world deal with the coronavirus pandemic, cutting funding to the WHO will only make the situation worse globally, and therefore worse in the United States.
Congressman Ami Bera understands this dynamic. He is a Democrat from California who serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and is Chair of the Subcommittee on Asia and Pacific.
He is also a medical doctor who has long championed global health issues. In November 2019, he served on a commission on pandemic preparedness convened by an independent think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC. The commission that issued a series of recommendations to bolster US health security in the face of a flu-like pandemic. Today, those recommendations look prescient.
As the WHO protects poorer countries, they protect the US
I caught up with Congressman Ami Bera one day after President Trump announced that the United States was freezing funding for the World Health Organization. In our conversation, Congressman Bera explains why preventing clusters of COVID-19 from taking hold in poorer countries is required for securing the US homeland, and how the WHO is critical to that effort.
We also discuss what the trajectory of the outbreak looks like here in the United States, and how COVID-19 might shape US politics and foreign policy in the coming months and years.
If you have 20 minutes and want the perspective of a member of US Congress on this ongoing pandemic, have a listen.