Expert, senator and former official have criticized the U.S. administration for stepping back from the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic just as it is needed most, The New York Times reported on Saturday.
"Whether that means halting funding to the World Health Organization (WHO), skipping a vaccine donor conference in Europe or barring foreign health workers in poor nations from buying masks and gloves with American aid, the Trump administration's retrenchment has alarmed allies," said the report.
Ilona Kickbusch, the founding director and chairwoman of the global health program at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, said that "our experience in the past is that no matter what the geopolitical tensions were, it was possible to bring countries together around health - particularly when there was an outbreak and a real crisis."
"At present, we see that health is used as a proxy for all kinds of conflicts that are there at the geopolitical level," she said. "And that is destructive."
Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said that it was necessary to be part of global decisions to curb the coronavirus if there was any hope of stopping its spread in the United States.
That is how the country has dealt with other worldwide threats over the last 100 years, he added.
Gayle E. Smith, who ran the American aid agency during the Obama administration, said that sending U.S. funding abroad and supporting relief programs was only one element of leading the global response to the virus.
It's also important, she said, to be visibly active in international organizations like the WHO to ensure the United States remains a guiding force.
"There needs to be a place where all of this comes together in some international institution... If there is an issue or a concern, then we should work with the organization to solve it," she was quoted as saying by the newspaper.