Donald Trump is so darn angry with the World Health Organization that he’s decided to pull back a huge amount of U.S. money … while WHO is trying to fight off the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
Is it me or does the timing of this bit of presidential pique seem cruel and dangerous?
Trump announced his decision to withhold money for WHO this week because of what he says is a mishandling of the pandemic when it began to alarm the world. He has accused WHO of being too “China centric,” even though the pandemic has its origins in China.
Meanwhile, the United Nations-based WHO is trying to gather data, trying to coordinate the international response to this pandemic, but now it must do so without a large chunk of money on which it relies to pay for its myriad functions. The United States kicks in about $400 million annually to WHO.
This is an international emergency. If there was a time for WHO to be fully funded and able to do its job, now is the time. However, we now hear from Donald Trump that he is turning off that financial spigot just as WHO needs all the support it can get.
Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates, who contributes huge sums from his enormous fortune to fight infectious disease, calls Trump’s decision “as dangerous as it gets.” Other medical officials also are worried that Trump has acted hastily.
My own view is that a suspension of money from the United States to WHO could have come after the pandemic had been brought under control. Then we could have established a firm after-action examination of where WHO fell short.
This isn’t the time to strip WHO of much of its ability to fight this deadly health crisis.