NNN Statement in Support of the World Health Organization in the Context of COVID-19

The NTD NGO Network (NNN) wishes to demonstrate its full support with the World Health Organization (WHO) and express its deep concern over the United States Government’s decision to withdraw funding from WHO. We welcome Resolution WHA73.1 from the recent World Health Assembly, and in particular the call for an impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation of WHO’s response to COVID-19.

The strong leadership demonstrated by WHO in the face of a worldwide public health emergency is crucial. The WHO is the only institution mandated by UN Member States to provide leadership on international health issues. WHO plays a critical role in ensuring that all governments, implementing partners, healthcare professionals, and the general public have the guidance needed to implement evidence-based strategies and to support regional and global approaches to pressing health challenges. These efforts also actively protect the most vulnerable, including those living with neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).

Countries are making difficult decisions to balance the demands of responding directly to COVID-19, with the need to maintain the delivery of other essential health services. COVID-19 prevents countries from addressing existing health crises worldwide. NTD programmes aim to serve the poorest and most vulnerable communities; they play a fundamental role in building back healthy communities and stronger public health systems.
WHO’s guidance is needed to ensure that global health and development stakeholders work together to maintain the gains that have been made by NTD programmes and other major public health initiatives.

Earlier this month, WHO shared operational guidance for the management of NTD programmes through community-based health care, including outreach and campaigns in the context of COVID-19. Like NTDs, COVID-19 requires multisectoral collaboration, involving governments, donors, implementers and communities. Such coordination is crucial if we are to beat this pandemic and mitigate the social, economic and human costs.

As stated by many Member States during the World Health Assembly, now is not the time to disengage or withdraw funding from WHO as its guidance for the collective effort to address the pandemic is essential. 

Yaobi Zhang
NNN Chair

Kisito Ogoussan
NNN Vice-Chair

Gail Davey
NNN Immediate Past Chair