President Trump has announced to halt funding to the World Health Organization due to the agency’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. The White House based its decision on WHO’s misleading statements and their effective praise of the Chinese government.
Critics caution Trump that pulling funding will weaken efforts to combat the pandemic. They are wrong, of course. The WHO first criticized Trump for his correct decision to impose travel restrictions on China. They told him it would have the effect of increasing fear and stigma with little public health benefit.
Tedros, the director-general of WHO, then went on to praise the Chinese Communist Party for “setting a new standard for outbreak control” and overruled the objection of WHO colleagues to delay the declaration of a public health emergency. This then went on to cost the world the precious time they needed to prepare for this pandemic.
Information for COVID-19 was most valuable for fighting the pandemic as there are no existing vaccines or proven treatments. The entire mission of WHO is to vet and disseminate data from its 194 member states. The organization crumbled in this most basic task by buying into the Chinese spin of misinformation. WHO will soon lose complete legitimacy if it’s run by a representative of a country that itself covers up pandemics. Tedros is the health minister in Ethiopia and was their foreign minister from 2012-2016, a country with a long history of denying cholera outbreaks even as aid agencies scramble to contain them. This fear of what WHO can report is historically covered up by countries for fear that travel restrictions would be imposed, tourism would suffer, or food exports would be curtailed. Everything affecting the lives of thousands all over national pride.
Prior to Tedros, WHO has routinely spent about $200 million a year on travel expenses, more than what it doles out to fight some of the biggest problems in public health, including AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined.
U.S taxpayers should not be funding a scandal-plagued organization with a controversial new director-general. Their choices affect the American people, members of Congress, and the Trump Administration. Our funding (as we are the largest contributor) covers about 25% of WHO’s budget, so of course, they are crying for America to do more. They have been plagued by persistent wasteful spending, utter disregard for transparency, and a failure to basic democratic standards.
Though people criticize Trump for wanting to withhold funding, WHO made several mistakes against the pandemic at the most critical stage. The White House has decided to take this $400 million a year that goes to WHO and redirect resources to public-health programs untainted by Chinese influence. Between China’s coverup and international scrutiny, it shouldn’t come as a shock for us to pull out the international foreign aid budget and push it elsewhere.