Last week President Trump announced he would pull the U.S. out of the World Health Organization (WHO). On Tuesday the head of the WHO’s Americas division urged the U.S. to consider the effect that could have on Latin America’ coronavirus crisis.
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The Pan-American Health Organization, or PAHO, is part of the WHO – and it relies on the U.S. for almost two-thirds of its funding.
In an online briefing, PAHO director Dr. Carissa Etienne said that aid is critical now as COVID-19 ravages much of Latin America and the Caribbean. The region has reported well over a million new coronavirus cases – and Brazil now has the world’s fourth-highest number of coronavirus deaths.
Etienne urged the U.S. to continue being “an important partner” of the PAHO even if it leaves the WHO. Trump accused the WHO of being manipulated by China amid the COVID pandemic.
Etienne also warned Latin American and Caribbean countries not to loosen pandemic lockdown and social distancing measures too soon. Scientists say the region has yet to reach its infection and death peaks, especially in Brazil – where President Jair Bolsonaro has dismissed the pandemic as a “hoax.”