ACCOUNTABILITY AT THE HEART OF TRUST
Article by: Emma Clayfield
United States of America President Donald Trump withdrew the USA membership and funding of the World Health Organisation.
Donald trump has without fail expressed his dislike for China and has expressed his agitation towards the outbreak of the Coronavirus. Trump claims that the Chinese government concealed information on the outbreak as opposed to warning other countries sooner.
Allegations of the coronavirus being manufactured in a lab in Wuhan China, were also without secret, one of the accusations made by US President Donald Trump.
US President Donald Trump has announced the US is cutting its funding to the World Health Organisation (WHO) – a decision that will have major implications for the global health response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The US contributes more than US$400 million to the WHO per year, though it is already US$200 million in arrears. It is the organisation’s largest donor and gives about 10 times what China does per year.
Trump has accused the organisation of mishandling and covering up the initial spread of COVID-19 in China, and of generally failing to take a harsher stance toward China.
The WHO was established in 1948 to serve as the directing and coordinating authority in international health. It was created with a mandate to improve the health of the world’s population, and defined health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
While various civil society, industry and faith-based organisations can observe WHO meetings, only countries are allowed to become members. Every May, member states attend the World Health Assembly in Geneva to set the WHO’s policy direction, approve the budget and review the organisation’s work.
Understandably China has grown in power and economic influence since 2003, when then-Director General Gro Harlem Brundtland publicly criticised it for trying to hide the spread of the SARS virus.
But China is ultimately just one of the WHO’s 194 member states. And one of the great ironies of Trump’s criticism is that the organisation has been criticised by other member states for decades for being influenced too heavily by the United States.
If enacted, these funding cuts may cause the WHO to go bankrupt in the middle of a pandemic. That might mean the WHO has to fire staff, even as they are trying to help low- and middle-income countries save lives.
It will also mean the WHO is less able to coordinate international efforts around issues like vaccine research, procurement of personal protective equipment for health workers and providing technical assistance and experts to help countries fight the pandemic.
More broadly, if the US extends these cuts for other global health initiatives coordinated by the WHO, it will likely cause people in low income countries to lose access to vital medicines and health services. Lives will be lost.
There will also be a cost to the United States’ long-term strategic interests.
For decades, the world has looked to the US to provide leadership on global health issues. Due to Trump’s attempt to shift blame from his administration’s failures to prepare the US for the arrival of COVID-19, he has now signalled the US is no longer prepared to provide that leadership role.
Donald Trump is set to address the public today on an alleged cure for Covid19, which is apparently the anti malarial drug.
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