Most of the underdeveloped countries were shocked about President’s sudden announcement that the United States is leaving and discontinuing its funding to World Health Organization (WHO). Why is it so devastating to the worldwide public health scenario.?
President Trump has been strongly criticized for the delay in handling the spread of Corona virus in the US; in turn Trump blames WHO for its slow response in raising the alarm over the global threat of the Pandemic Covid-19. Due to the fact that WHO is possessed by Chinese domination, Trump named WHO as “ China-centric”, as they mismanaged and covered up the spread of corona virus, which is suspected to have been leaked and started spreading from a laboratory in Wuhan, China.
The world so far was considering the US, UK, Germany, France, Japan, Canada and Italy are the real representatives of world’s advanced economies; and they decide the fate of the world. President Trump at least concords that there are emerging countries like China, Australia, India, Brazil, and South Korea, which are emerging countries to be considered to promote democratic values for the betterment of the world. In front of the Covid pandemic; all nations have knelt down, in controlling the spread or finding an effective vaccine to stop its forward journey.
WHO was founded as the UN global health body in 1948 with the ultimate mandate of promoting global health, protect the human beings against infectious diseases and to serve the vulnerable from health emergencies. We have found its immediate responses to combat communicable diseases like cholera, yellow fever, plague, swine flu, HIV, plague, Ebola etc. it is the directing and coordinating authority on international health within UN for their 194 member countries. But why they failed when the new enemy started engulfing the whole world?
Especially when the whole world is looking to the US for leadership, and the so called leader is leading only in their daily death rate; US also lost its supremacy, as they were uncontrollable just like any other nation. But to a great extent Americans think that Trump is not the right leader to do anything during critical situations. And they join with the media in accusing Trump for the wrong way he has been handling the issue of Pandemic Covid, killing already about 125,000 innocent Americans, and still continuing.
Looking back to the 72 years of the history of WHO, the US has been the largest sponsor. America has off late contributed $893 million, 15% of the entire budget and the contribution is more than twice as much as any other country so far done. Hence USA has been the center of importance of the public health system all over the world.
USA has an assessed contribution of $237 million as its membership dues. But America generosity has provided with additional $656 million during 2018-19. The contributions were earmarked specifically as for Polio (166M), Health & Nutrition Services (121M), Vaccines for Preventable diseases (58M), Tuberculosis (41M), Emergency Preparedness (36M), HIV & Hepatitis (34M), Infectious Hazard Management (32M), Leadership & Governances (30M), Prevention & Control of Outbreaks (27M), Reproductive, Material, newborn & Child Health (27 M) etc.
Even during the Covid-19 pandemic spreading in America, Trump has liberally helped many other countries, in spite of his helplessness to harness the situation with lack of enough masks and PPE, and no panacea or vaccine is invented to curb the unexpected enemy. US helped 64 of the world’s most-at-risk countries with a bulk foreign assistance of $274 million.
USA as the leader of health services has failed to arrest the vast spread, as WHO or CDC had failed to alert the worl. Trump believes that WHO was hiding the facts for the sake of China. In spite of the vast support to WHO and UN, US did not get any first hand information, and China played a dirty game.
Trump was blamed that he could not help the Americans or the rest of the world. Whether WHO or his advisors failed to lead Trump for a speedier-actions, Trump was largely without any coherent scientific inputs into his immediate plans and policy making. His slow response, even complacency, in the early days of the epidemic exploding in China is sympathetically “understandable”. Media accused him that “A pandemic plan was in place. Trump abandoned it – and science- in the face of Covid-19.”
On May 29th, Trump announced his hard decision of terminating the relationship and support to WHO, though it may need at least a year to fully discontinue membership and terminate agreement with WHO. President Trump’s rhetoric is impacting the whole world, more than his decision to quit supporting Paris Agreement on climate change.
Keeping up the pressure for these kinds of economic changes, will lead the world to more perilous situations; nevertheless the support of the superpower cannot be ignored. Making the accord work without United States will require other developing nations like China and India to come forward, but it will be a limited support. The real impact of this withdrawal from WHO, will be visible outside USA. US Scientists and Public Health experts will have limited access to the communication on important global health issues. Just like the data from China was not available to US or other leading nations.
“Trump’s decision is extremely problematic” said Devi Sridharan, the chairperson of global public health at the University of Edinburgh, as Trump’s assault on the reliability of WHO data and early warning systems. For instance, some of the nations have cut back their funding in recent years and the effects are already visible as Ebola virus is still not contained in West Africa.
Faced with reduced income, WHO will be compelled to scale back its budget. It may have to slash down its Human Resources. Ultimately the world is going to face severe consequences, if any epidemic or pandemic is unknowingly crept into any part of our world in the near future. Will WHO be equipped to sound the alarming siren sufficiently earlier to bring the outbreak under control, or a much severe suit follow than we face now with Covid-19!