By Manavi Nag,
On April 14th, Donald Trump temporarily withdrew funding from the World Health Organization (WHO). Trump’s reasoning behind this possibly detrimental decision is that WHO has failed their basic duties by supposedly mishandling and covering the spread of COVID-19 after first appearing in China.
The United States is WHO’s biggest funder and Trump withdrawing funding, can be very worrisome for WHO especially at a time where most countries haven’t even reached their peak of Corona Virus cases. President Trump has been criticized for his decisions by many people, with the main argument that halting funding in the midst of a pandemic is dangerous. Mr Tedros, who is the director-general of WHO, said that “When we are divided, the coronavirus exploits the cracks between us. The WHO will review the impact of the funding gap and will continue its work “without fear or favour,”. United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres said something similar to Tedros, talking about solidarity in this trying time. The American Medical Association stated that “a dangerous step in the wrong direction that will not make defeating COVID-19 easier.” Overall, the general consensus of Trump’s actions remains worried and anxious.
However, Trump thinks this decision is the correct one, especially since the U.S contributes to 15% of WHO’s funding. Trump questioned if America’s generosity (to WHO) is being utilized in the best way possible. Trump said that “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,” he told reporters. Trump believed that WHO had been influenced by China and their power and been biased towards them in the preliminary days of the virus’s outbreak, as China tried to hide the intensity of the virus by punishing anyone who spoke out against the virus and keeping it a secret.
On January 14, WHO tweeted that Chinese investigations found no evidence the virus was transmitted through human touch. Trump claimed that this tweet displays that WHO was simply following whatever China claimed, regardless of evidence. WHO only got to China in February, by which there were already 40,000 cases. Many people including Trump believe that had WHO acted earlier and not have been allegedly influenced by China, the spread could have been prevented. However, by the end of January, after a deeper investigation, the WHO classified the Corona Virus as a public health emergency.
Some analysts believe that there is a deeper meaning behind Trump’s withdrawal of funding from WHO. Babara Plett-Usher, the state department correspondent of the BBC, writes that Trump withdrawing the funds is part of a bigger scheme to combat, prevent and hinder China’s rapidly growing global influence.
Many can speculate about the what-ifs about WHO acting earlier, however, Trump withdrawing funds from WHO in the middle of a rapidly spreading global pandemic, is questionable according to many. Now, we must continue practising social distancing in a time where our resilience is tested largely. As many leaders across the world claim, it is important that we unite in solidarity in the face of the Corona Virus.