Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Members of National Nurses United, the largest nurses union in the United States, protest in front of the White House April 21, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

We Need Healthcare Professionals in Washington to Fight Back Against a Reckless President

There has never been a more important moment for medical experts to have a seat at the table and to have the funding they need to do their jobs.

Robbie Goldstein

After months of threats, President Trump this week submitted an official notice of withdrawal from the World Health Organization (WHO) to the UN Secretary General, effective July, 6 2021. With this action, the President made our country less safe and threatened the health of billions of people around the globe. His decision is foolish. It is wrong. It will cost lives.

President Trump’s actions are a dangerous blow to a vitally important part of our global health infrastructure that provides lifesaving resources and directs the global public health response to new and existing threats. In their mission, the WHO works to ensure “a world in which all peoples attain the highest possible level of health.” It deserves our unwavering support to help prevent, prepare for, and respond to health emergencies around the globe.

"We need Congress to provide oversight and hold the executive branch accountable to ensure the safety and security of our country. We need to join with and support the WHO in their mission to provide better health for everyone, everywhere."The WHO is the largest international organization focused on global health and its funding comes from member states of the United Nations. At the core of President Trump’s declaration was his concern that the United States contributes nearly $500 million annually to sustain the work of the WHO, while other member states contribute far less - in particular, China. Rather than use American investment as leverage to enact the needed reforms to the WHO, President Trump has perpetuated his xenophobic policies blaming others for his own shortfalls and lack of leadership.

The Trump administration has shown that it has no interest in using data and evidence to drive its decisions. In removing American funding, President Trump is scapegoating the public health experts that we need. This is a brazen effort to cover up his own failure to handle the COVID-19 pandemic here in America, as he has undermined scientific opinion, ignored the facts, and refused to create a national strategy to keep Americans safe and healthy.

These actions should not be a surprise to us and mirror the Republican playbook of the last decade. Recognizing the importance of public health in improving overall health, the Affordable Care Act earmarked increasing yearly budget line items to build up our national public health infrastructure. As Republicans took control of Congress and then the executive branch, this funding was stripped away from yearly budgets, resulting in an $8 billion shortfall in investment in domestic public health programs through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health. We are living through the consequences of those failed decisions having entered this fight against a deadly global pandemic with dwindling national stockpiles of emergency protective equipment, a lack of public health officials across the country to respond to the local spread of the virus, and a weakened trust in the power of government to protect our health.

Importantly, any strategy to address global health threats must recognize that protecting public health is part of our national defense strategy. More Americans have died from COVID-19 than in all military operations since the Korean War, combined. As the case numbers and deaths continue to increase, both here in America and around the world, we are obligated to think critically about how we can make our country more safe in the future. A robust network of global public health infrastructure is the only way that we can fight newly emerging and established health risks.

As an infectious disease physician and candidate for Congress, I am acutely aware of the impact decisions by our government have on the health of people across this country. I talk with patients every day who are concerned about their symptoms and worried about the safety of getting back to work. I work in the intensive care units that are deciding how to allocate limited numbers of ventilators. I see how our lack of investment in public health has made my patients less safe. I launched this campaign to make sure that these stories are heard in the halls of Congress and are centered in our policy decisions.

There has never been a more important moment for medical experts to have a seat at the table and to have the funding they need to do their jobs. We need healthcare professionals in Washington to fight back against an ignorant and reckless President, and to ensure that we put vulnerable lives first by implementing evidence-based strategies. We need Congress to provide oversight and hold the executive branch accountable to ensure the safety and security of our country. We need to join with and support the WHO in their mission to provide better health for everyone, everywhere.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Robbie Goldstein

Robbie Goldstein, MD, PhD is a physician based in Boston who is running for Congress to represent Massachusetts' Eighth District. Goldstein has spent his career in Medicine focused on infectious disease treatment and prevention. A human rights advocate, Goldstein founded and directs the Transgender Health Program at Massachusetts General Hospital and has worked to further progressive causes in Massachusetts for two decades. Learn more at robbieforchange.com

Progressives Say 'Do What the People Want and Tax the Rich' to Pay for Infrastructure

"It is obvious that if we're going to address the needs of working families in this country, we need revenue," says Sen. Bernie Sanders, "and one way that we get that revenue is by demanding that the wealthiest people, the largest corporations are paying their fair share."

Jessica Corbett, staff writer ·


Doctors Without Borders Calls on BioNTech to Share Vaccine Tech With World

"The faster companies share the know-how, the faster we can put an end to this pandemic."

Andrea Germanos, staff writer ·


Over 30,000 US Veterans of Post-9/11 Wars Have Killed Themselves Since 2001

"As we come closer to the twentieth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, we must reflect on the mental health cost of the Global War on Terror."

Julia Conley, staff writer ·


Sunrise Ends 400-Mile Climate March With Arrests at Ted Cruz's House

The Gulf South marchers demand that Congress and the Biden White House pass bold climate jobs legislation, including a bill to create a Civilian Climate Corps.

Jessica Corbett, staff writer ·


Global Hopes in Doubt After G7 Fails to Meet Climate Finance Pledges for Poor Nations

"I'd have really hoped for a clearer signal on how and when we will be able to see the commitment to mobilize the $100 billion fulfilled."

Andrea Germanos, staff writer ·