President Trump this week announced the US would suspend funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) while officials investigate the “China-centric” agency and why it caused “so much death” by “severely mismanaging and covering up” the true nature of COVID-19.
As I wrote in a previous article, the WHO’s response to the coronavirus has been less than stellar. Among other problems, the organization has strong ties to China that continually prevent it from responding to crises in an objective fashion. This time around, the agency has been accused of helping China suppress information at the beginning of the outbreak.
“We need the WHO to do its job, to perform its primary function, which is to make sure that the world has accurate, timely, effective, real information about what’s going on in the global health space, and they didn’t get that done here,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Not only did the WHO actively ignore evidence suggesting COVID-19 could spread from one human to another, they praised China’s initial response to the virus even after Beijing detained a doctor who tried to spread a warning.
“Had the WHO done its job to get medical experts into China to objectively assess the situation on the ground and to call out China’s lack of transparency, the outbreak could have been contained at its source with very little death,” said Trump.
As expected, Democrats condemned Trump’s decision and accused him of using the WHO as a scapegoat for his own failures.
“While the WHO may have made mistakes in its response to this crisis, it was certainly not alone, and it defies logic to withhold support from the WHO at this pivotal moment – at the height of a global pandemic – when promoting the health of nations around the world is essential to protecting our own population and rebuilding our own economy,” wrote Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Steven Lynch (D-MA) in a letter.
“Halting funding for the WHO during a world health crisis is as dangerous as it sounds,” added Bill Gates, whose foundation contributes more money to the WHO than do most of its member nations. “Their work is slowing the spread of COVID-19 and if that work is stopped no other organization can replace them. The world needs @WHO now more than ever.”
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said there would be time for an investigation after COVID-19 is defeated.
“It is not the time to reduce the resources for the operation of the WHO or any humanitarian organization in the fight against the virus,” said Guterres. “Once we have finally turned the page on this epidemic, there must be a time to look back fully to understand how such a disease emerged and spread its devastation so quickly across the globe, and how all those involved reacted to the crisis. The lessons learned will be essential to effectively address similar changes, as they may arise in the future.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison expressed “sympathy” with Trump’s decision, but said he would not follow suit. “We work closely with them so we’re not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater here,” he said.
The United States is the WHO’s largest donor, contributing between $400 and $500 million each year. By comparison, China spends about $40 million.
Author’s Note: This is vintage Trump, making a bold and controversial move to prepare for negotiations. Trump has established a position of complete withdrawal and can now “settle” for major changes to the WHO’s China-centric bias so the agency can move towards objectivity and be effective in predicting and preventing pandemics, like COVID-19.