In response to President Trump’s letter criticizing the World Health Organization, Abby Maxman, President of CEO of Oxfam America, made the following statement:
“The COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the globe calls for robust international cooperation and a solution that prioritizes the public health needs of the most vulnerable, wherever they are located.
“Lessons will need to be learned about how governments and global institutions have responded to the pandemic. But calling for major reforms now, when the World Health Organization needs to be fully focused on coordinating the global fight against the pandemic, will only make things worse.
“Instead of bringing us together through this global crisis, President Trump has attacked leaders and agencies around the world, seeking to deflect blame for his own administration’s failings. Only international cooperation and solidarity can save lives and restore the global economy.
“This unprecedented pandemic calls for a response that engages with experts and promotes local leadership throughout communities, carried out with a sense of shared humanity. No one individual, community, or country can deal with this crisis alone. We must work together, in our communities and across borders, with dignity and compassion. No one is safe until everyone is safe.”
On the resolution agreed today at the World Health Assembly, Maxman said:
“The final World Health Assembly resolution leaves too many barriers standing in the way of a vaccine for all. Lifesaving vaccines, tests and treatments must be free and available for all, not a luxury for the few. We must put people before profits.
“For its part, the US seems intent on protecting the private profits of US pharmaceutical companies rather than safeguarding public health.
“Pharmaceutical companies directly receive billions of dollars in public subsidies, take advantage of billions more spent by public health ministries on foundational research, spend millions of dollars lobbying governments worldwide for preferential treatment, and too often fail to pay their fair share in tax. They are among the most profitable businesses on earth. What’s more, they funnel the bulk of their profits to their wealthy investors through stock buyback and dividends. They do not lack for money to invest in R&D. Given the enormous benefits they receive from the public, they have an obligation to ensure that any medicines or vaccines are affordable and accessible to all.
“Oxfam has called for open licensing of all COVID-19 treatments and vaccines to ensure that access will be determined not by ability to pay but by need – and more 170 world leaders, including several current heads of state, joined our call in the lead-up to the World Health Assembly.”