In the midst of a pandemic, Trump cuts the WHO budget drastically.

In the midst of a pandemic, Trump cuts the WHO budget drastically.

Big mouth and short ideas

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Despite the health red alert, President Donald Trump carried out during the night of Tuesday to Wednesday, April 15 his threat to cut off the World Health Organization (WHO), accusing it of "mismanagement" and "concealment" in the coronavirus pandemic leaving China in late 2019.

The head of the UN, Antonio Guterres, strongly criticized this initiative, saying that "this initiative is not a good idea. is not the time to cut funding." organizations fighting the pandemic.

Reacting on Twitter, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that he "...has been a great help to the people of the world...". didn't have time to waste on polemics. WHO's sole concern is to help all people save lives and end the Covid-19 pandemic."

From the EU to China and the African Union, many countries and organisations have also castigated this initiative by Washington, the largest donor to the WHO with more than $400 million a year. « We need to work closely together against Covid-19. One of the best investments is to strengthen the United Nations, especially the WHO." said the head of German diplomacy, Heiko Maas.

In WHO's 2018-19 biennial budget cycle, the United States was the largest donor, providing nearly $900 million of the $5.6 billion budget, with the United States share representing 17 %.

Short view

President Donald Trump said he will suspend U.S. funding to the World Health Organization pending a 60 to 90-day investigation into how the agency managed the response to the 2019 coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). Trump accused the WHO of " mismanage and conceal the spread of coronavirus« at a press conference at the White House in the Rose Garden, adding that " everyone knows what's going on there.".

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Donald Trump leaves the Rose Garden at the White House after his press conference - Photo: Alex Brandon/AP

With the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are very concerned about whether the generosity of the United States has been used to best effect.says the American President. Reality he continued, is that WHO has failed to obtain, review and share information in an adequate, transparent and timely manner. »

Those involved in the response to the pandemic around the world reacted with horror to this news. « It's a short-sighted decision that will be disastrous for the agency...« says Devi Sridhar, a global health expert at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom. « More than ever we need WHO to support all countries, especially those with low and middle incomes. »

This decision is counterproductive and " leaves the United States and the world less secure."The United States is a leader in disaster response," said Jeremy Konyndyk, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development who led the U.S. Agency for International Development's disaster response efforts under former President Barack Obama. « It is a transparent attempt to shift the blame for the US administration's own failures. »

Sabotaging the global fight against the pandemic

Trump's action could significantly hamper the global fight against VIDOC-19, according to Lawrence Gostin, Director of the O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University," said Lawrence Gostin. If the WHO is caught in a political and financial crisis, it simply will not be able to provide the leadership it so urgently needs at this unique time in human history. »

The announcement was made on the day the first WHO "solidarity flight" left Ethiopia carrying medical supplies to African countries to help them fight VID19. « WHO is supporting global surveillance efforts and the scaling up of testing and interventions in low- and middle-income countries around the world.« says Matthew Kavanaugh, a global health researcher at Georgetown University. " Hindering this response is not only unfair, it is incredibly bad for American public health at a time when we have all learned with pain how easily this virus moves from abroad to American shores. »

Expert in untruths

Trump's decision is based on two ways of thinking that are peculiar to the US President: one is his deep antipathy to multilateral organizations - remember his withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement; the other is his mania for blaming others for his own inaction in the fight against coronavirus. So on Monday, with all shame drunk, he accused the media of minimising the dangers of the epidemic. The WHO is being lumped together.

Yet there is plenty of evidence against these untruths. The WHO warned the United States and other countries about the risk of human-to-human transmission as early as January 10. Jeremy Konyndyk, the former head of USAid's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, noted that on January 14, the WHO tweeted that "[t]he WHO has warned that "[t]he risk of human-to-human transmission of HIV is greater than the risk of human-to-human transmission. the preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have not found clear evidence of human-to-human transmission". On 23 January, it issued an official report warning of human-to-human transmission and higher transmissibility than seasonal influenza. Konyndyk, now a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, wrote on Twitter: "[T]he report warns that the flu is more contagious among humans than seasonal flu. So, to blame the WHO, these nine days between January 14 and 23 were decisive for the lack of preparation by the United States. This is madness. The administration spent the whole month of February doing nothing to prepare the country in any significant way. »

On February 7, after the WHO had declared a public health emergency, Donald Trump was asked whether China was engaged in a cover-up. « No, China is working very hard... and I think she's doing a very professional job. They're in touch with World Health. »

On February 27, despite multiple warnings from intelligence agencies and his own advisers, Trump continued to downplay the virus, stating " He's gonna disappear. One day - it's like a miracle - he'll disappear. » By the end of the month, the U.S. had conducted only about 4,000 tests for the coronavirus, while other countries have tested tens of thousands of people.

Leslie Dach, president of the "Protect Our Care" lobby group, protests: " This is nothing more than an attempt by President Trump to distract attention from his history by downplaying the seriousness of the coronavirus crisis and the failure of his administration to prepare our nation. » Ms. Dach, who was the global coordinator for the Ebola virus for the Department of Health, added: "We are very pleased to be able to work with the Ebola virus. Certainly the World Health Organization is not without fault, but it is more than irresponsible to reduce its funding at the height of a global pandemic. »

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More than 126,000 deaths have been counted worldwide since the beginning of the pandemic and the United States has become the main focus of Covid-19. The country has recorded more than 2,200 deaths in 24 hours and more than 25,700 deaths in total. The United States has become the country with the highest number of deaths related to the Covid-19 epidemic, ahead of Italy, Spain and France, and the country with the highest number of diagnosed cases - more than 600,000 infections.

With AFP, Science, The Guardian

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