Global Health Experts Warn about Trump’s Dangerous Politicization of USAID

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, November 10, 2020

CONTACT: Brett Abrams | [email protected] 

Global Health Experts Warn about Trump’s Dangerous Politicization of USAID

CHANGE Condemns Firing of USAID Deputy Administrator Bonnie Glick and Trump Appointee John Barsa’s Refusal to Cooperate with Biden Transition

WASHINGTON, DC -- Statement from Serra Sippel, President of CHANGE (the Center for Health and Gender Equity) on the dangerous politicization at USAID, including the firing of Deputy Administrator Bonnie Glick, and Acting Deputy Administrator John Barsa’s instructions to USAID staff to not comply with the Biden transition team:

“The actions of Trump Administration loyalists at USAID are absolutely appalling and a flagrant effort to hijack the international development agency's $19b budget and cement an anti-human rights agenda into our foreign policy for decades to come.

“Joe Biden will be the next President of the United States, and efforts to usurp international aid agencies and prevent a smooth, and peaceful transition of power are unacceptable and unAmerican.

“In this election, the American people rejected Trump’s anti-human rights agenda and his advocacy of white Evangelical patriarchy. Attempts to cement these views into our foreign policy through the firing of Bonnie Glick followed by the appointments of three political ideologues to top agency jobs is additionally disturbing and will likely undermine USAID’s mission for years to come.”

“Leaders at USAID should be people who prioritize gender equality and human rights for all, protect environmental integrity, direct investments to women-led gender justice organizations, fully support sexual and reproductive health and rights and commit to undoing the harms of the global gag rule. We expect nothing less from a Biden Administration.

“These Trump cronies attempting to entrench themselves at USAID are exactly what the American people voted against and antithetical to the agency’s mission. We urge Biden to prioritize their swift removal upon his inauguration.

Earlier this year, CHANGE released its annual report grading U.S. government actors (The White House, Congress, USAID, State Department, HHS and DoD) on how their global health policies, investments, and programs have impacted three domains across SRHR: family planning, maternal and child health, and HIV and AIDS treatment, prevention, and care. 

The SRHR Index evaluates each actor’s 2019 performance on gender-responsiveness, responsiveness to need, basis in evidence, consistency with internationally recognized human rights principles, and transparency. 


This year, the U.S. government’s overall SRHR grade fell from a C in 2018 to a C- in 2019, with the White House falling to a D, and HHS falling to D-. Since CHANGE began releasing annual grades starting with 2016, the U.S. government’s overall SRHR grade was at its highest in 2016 (B), and has decreased consistently since Trump took office thus far (2017-2019) with its lowest grade of a C- in 2019. The White House’s grades dropped further in 2019 because of the Trump administration’s refusal to include health and, specifically, sexual and reproductive health, in the policies it issued in 2019 that were women-focused, including the U.S. Global Health Security Strategy and the U.S. Strategy on Women, Peace, and Security. The White House’s grade also dramatically fell due to the administration’s disregard for and defunding of key multilateral institutions like UNICEF, UNIFEM and UNFPA.

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