Trump’s withdrawal of U.S. funding for WHO will impact the organization’s ability to function, since these resources constitute 27% of the budget for polio eradication, and 19% of the total devoted to fighting tuberculosis, HIV, malaria and measles
Trump is attempting to divert attention from his administration’s mishandling of the pandemic. Photo: Reuters
On May 29, U.S. President Donald Trump broke off relations with the World Health Organization (WHO), questioning the institution’s management of the epidemiological crisis caused by the new coronavirus.
He justified the decision arguing, with his usual arrogance, that the global entity – the unquestionable leader in addressing the current pandemic – had not carried out reforms that his nation has demanded, and reiterated accusations that WHO was “too lenient with China.”
Back in April, Trump had temporarily suspended the U.S. government’s contributions to the WHO budget, estimated at some 450 million dollars a year, which is equivalent to 15% of the institution’s finances.
At the time, the United Nations Secretary General António Guterres responded to the controversial decision insisting that it was “not the time” to cut funds,” while Germany, Australia, Russia, New Zealand, the European Union and others have spoken out against Washington’s absurd and untimely punitive measure.
The move brought heartfelt messages, including that of African Union Commission President Moussa Faki Mahamat, who called the decision “deeply regrettable,” and others more caustic and direct, such as that of China, which urged Washington to continue to comply with its obligations to the WHO and “not blame others for its own mistakes.”
Within the U.S. itself, the American Medical Association (AMA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, various civil society organizations, activist groups and human rights defenders expressed their opposition to the President’s arrogant decision.
There have been some very explicit comments, including those from Representative Eliot Engel (D-NY), who said, “The President shows us his political playbook: blame the WHO, blame China, blame his political opponents, blame his predecessors, do whatever it takes to deflect the fact that his administration mishandled this crisis and is now costing thousands of American lives.”
“The world needs the WHO more than ever,” tweeted Microsoft magnate Bill Gates, one of the agency’s largest private donors.
Yet, curiously, the Anonymous movement blamed the WHO in a recent video for prioritizing the interests of its largest donors over global public health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What is certain is that the financing withdrawn by the United States will impact the organization’s ability to function proactively, since these funds make up 27% of the budget for polio eradication, 19% of the total devoted to fighting tuberculosis, HIV, malaria and measles, and 23% of the budget set aside for emergency operations.
Specialists indicate that the WHO’s basic disease prevention programs, including those in Africa and Latin America, could be seriously compromised by the departure of its main donor.
The WHO had foreseen a situation like this and has sought ways to mitigate the damage to the institution’s finances. China and Russia have made a commitment to provide support directly or indirectly, while the European Union is asking Trump to reconsider the decision. What is hard to ignore is the incomprehensible attitude of an arrogant man who, sitting in the Oval Office, is dragging the country that has suffered the most deaths from the epidemic to the lowest levels of moral human values.