What does the suspension of US funding for WHO mean for the world?

US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — The United States transfers more than $ 400 million a year to WHO, although it has already accumulated 200 million delinquencies. They are the main sponsor of the organization, and their annual contributions are ten times more than the Chinese, writes The Conversation.

Trump accused WHO of an ineffective response to the crisis and hiding the initial spread of coronavirus in China, as well as unwillingness to take a tougher stance against Beijing.

But what will his decision mean for the organization?

Who is a WHO member?

WHO was formed in 1948 as a leading and coordinating body in world health. It aims to improve the health of the population of the whole world, defining it as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not just the absence of diseases and physical defects.”

Although public associations, enterprises and religious organizations may be present at WHO meetings, only countries can be members of the organization. Each year in May, Member States participate in the World Health Assembly in Geneva, which sets WHO policies, approves the budget, and reviews progress.

There are now 194 Member States at WHO, that is, one more than at the UN.

How is WHO funded?

Most of WHO’s funding comes from two main sources. The first is the mandatory deductions of countries.

They are calculated on the basis of the size of GDP and population, but in fact have not yet increased after freezing the level of payments in the 1980s.

The second source is voluntary contributions. They come from governments, philanthropic organizations and individuals and are usually targeted at specific initiatives and projects, making it harder for WHO to redirect them in case of emergency, as is the case with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Have countries already refused funding in the past?

For more than 70 years of the organization’s existence, a number of countries did not transfer deductions on time.

So, the Soviet Union once announced its withdrawal from WHO and did not pay deductions for several years. After returning to WHO in 1955, the USSR demanded debt reduction and achieved it.

WHO has repeatedly found itself on the verge of bankruptcy due to non-payment of deductions. Fortunately, governments usually acted responsibly and, albeit late, transferred funds.

Was WHO already the target of political criticism?

In 2009, WHO was accused of being too hasty because it declared swine flu a pandemic. It was suspected that the organization had done so under pressure from pharmaceutical companies.

Five years later, WHO was accused of pulling too far with a statement that the Ebola epidemic in western Africa was creating an emergency sanitation situation.

Trump accused WHO of delaying the sending of experts to evaluate China’s efforts to combat Covid-19 and its reluctance to condemn Beijing’s lack of transparency at the initial stage of the crisis.

However, this criticism does not take into account the sovereignty of China. WHO cannot force a Member State to deploy an expert team to conduct its assessment. Such an intervention requires a country request for WHO assistance.

In addition, an organization cannot force a country to share information. She can only ask.

In addition, Trump’s comments ignore the fact that WHO eventually sent a group of experts to China in mid-February after reaching an agreement with the authorities. The results of the study provided valuable information about the virus and the measures taken by China against its spread.

Is China’s influence on WHO increasing?

China has indeed become stronger and has gained more economic influence since 2003, when WHO Director General Gro Harlem Bruntland publicly accused him of trying to hide information about the spread of the SARS virus.

China has also been criticized for blocking Taiwan’s candidacy for joining the organization. Moreover, the measures taken in Taiwan against Covid-19 were one of the most effective.

Be that as it may, in the end, China is just one of the 194 Member States of WHO. Trump’s accusations that the organization is too much dependent on China sound quite ironic, given that many Member States have for decades expressed dissatisfaction with the excessive influence on WHO from … the United States.

What happens if the US stops funding?

If the measure announced by Trump is really implemented, this could lead to the bankruptcy of WHO at the height of the global pandemic. WHO will have to lay off staff, while now trying to help low- and middle-income countries save lives.

WHO also will not be able to effectively coordinate international efforts on issues such as vaccine development, procurement of personal protective equipment for physicians, and providing countries with technical and expert assistance in combating the pandemic.

In general, if the United States expands its funding cuts to other global health initiatives sponsored by WHO, residents of poor countries may lose access to medicines and essential health services. Lives will be lost.

All this will also be a blow to the long-term strategic interests of the United States.

For decades, everyone has been waiting for the United States to play one of the first roles in global healthcare. Trying to pass on to others the responsibility for the failure of his administration to prepare the United States for the appearance of Covid-19, Trump gave everyone a clear signal: America is no longer ready for the leadership role.

But nature is alien to emptiness. And the more so for politics.


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