Trump’s threats to WHO could undercut global health, experts say

The U.S. is the WHO's biggest donor at $450 million a year.
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with restaurant industry executives about the coronavirus response. May 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

U.S. President Donald Trump’s attacks on the World Health Organization are hurting its ability to protect global health, medical experts said Tuesday. Many WHO member states rallied around the U.N. health agency despite the urge to look into its coordination of the global response to COVID-19 (coronavirus).

What We Know:

  • In a letter to the WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Trump wrote that the WHO’s “repeated missteps” in its response to the pandemic have proven “very costly for the world”.
  • On Monday, Trump threatened to permanently cut U.S. funding to the WHO unless the agency commits to “substantive improvements” in the next 30 days.
  • “I cannot allow American taxpayer dollars to continue to finance an organization that, in its present state, is so clearly not serving America’s interests,” he wrote. The U.S. is the WHO’s biggest donor, providing about $450 million a year.
  • Devi Sridhar, a professor of global health at the University of Edinburgh, said the letter was likely written for Trump’s political base and meant to deflect blame for the virus’ devastating impact in the U.S., which has by far the most infections and virus deaths in the world.
  • Trump has repeatedly accused the WHO of being unduly influenced by China, and wrote that the agency has been “curiously insistent” on praising the country’s “alleged transparency”.

The WHO acknowledged receipt of Trump’s missive and said it was “considering the contents of the letter,” according to a statement. The agency has previously noted that it declared a global health emergency on Jan. 30, when there were fewer than 100 cases of coronavirus outside of China.

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Javier Garay is Media & News SVCS Intern at UnmutedCo.

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