News & Politics

The Usual Suspects Balk at Trump Cutting WHO Funding

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, left, director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), poses with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi for a photo as he arrives for a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, Tuesday, July 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, Pool)

In 2019, the U.S. taxpayers gave the World Health Organization $400 million dollars, about 15 percent of its total budget. Now, the WHO is asking for a billion dollars more to fight the coronavirus. Trump’s decision to cut funding to the organization has caused the usual outcry from the usual suspects, but the question is really, how much impact would a cut-off of aid by the U.S. have on fighting the coronavirus?

There would be no immediate impact, but it would be noticeable next year after the first round with the virus has already been fought. That doesn’t matter because the theme emerging in the media around the world is that Trump has taken this step to deflect blame from his belated response to the initial reports of the virus.

Reuters:

U.S. health advocacy group Protect Our Care said Trump’s WHO funding withdrawal was “a transparent attempt … to distract from his history downplaying the severity of the coronavirus crisis and his administration’s failure to prepare our nation.”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison sympathizes with Trump, but also feels it’s a mistake to cut funding now.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he sympathised with Trump’s criticisms of the WHO, especially its “unfathomable” support of re-opening China’s “wet markets,” where freshly slaughtered, and live, animals are sold.

“But that said, the WHO also as an organization does a lot of important work including here in our region in the Pacific and we work closely with them,” Morrison told an Australian radio station.

“We are not going to throw the baby out of with the bathwater here, but they are also not immune from criticism.”

Speaking of China, how do they feel about Trump cutting funding for the organization that ran international interference for them while the virus exploded across the globe?

China, which has won WHO praise for its actions to curb the virus’s spread, urged the United States on Wednesday to fulfil its obligations to the WHO.

“This decision weakens the WHO’s capability and harms international cooperation,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said.

I guess it depends on how much the WHO does for your country. In the U.S., we have a massive public health infrastructure with no need for a bloated international organization to play much of a role. Other countries need that expertise and assistance.

The optics of cutting WHO funding in the midst of a global pandemic are not good and if the American media gave a hoot about the WHO and how much money they’re getting, it would look very bad.

But the media has chosen not to make the focus of the story the cuts in public health funding, but about Trump trying to shift blame away from the White House for a slow response to the outbreak. They just can’t help themselves, even in the midst of a global crisis.

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