Donald Trump versus the World Health Organization


By Ali Cinar

The US president has targeted the global organisation for its perceived bias towards China.

For the last several days, the public has been focused on President Trump’s remarks addressing the World Health Organization. 

President Trump said, “The World Health Organization is funded largely by the U.S., but they have criticized my travel ban. They seem very China-centric. We are going to look at it. They were late in their response to COVID. We will strongly consider to suspend our financial contribution to the WHO as the U.S.”

The World Health Organization responded that there was absolutely no pro-Chinese attitude and explained that it was not the right timing to cut financial aid in the most difficult phase of the pandemic, and this issue should not be politicised. 

President Trump shot back that it was unfair that the US spent $452 million on the World Health Organization in 2019 while the China contributed a mere $42 million and signalled that the attitude of the US towards the WHO would soon change.

The 2020–2021 total proposed program budget of the World Health Organization amounts to $4.8 billion. The 2018–2019 budget was $4.4 billion. 

Of that budget, 14.67 percent comes from the US and 9.76 percent from the Bill Gates Foundation. So, one can say that around 24 percent of its budget originates from the US. 

A brief look at other countries’ contributions tells us that Great Britain’s is at 7 percent, Germany 5, Japan 2, and Turkey’s is less than 1.

The main focus of the criticism toward the World Health Organization is its perceived bias towards China. Due to its China-centric politics, it is criticised not only by the United States but by other countries as well.

In the first week of January, many Chinese doctors tried to warn the world about the virus that came from Wuhan, but they were quickly disappeared. We have not seen a response by the World Health Organization concerning these losses.

On January 10, in a tweet, the World Health Organization said there was no need for health measurements for those traveling in and out of Wuhan. In another tweet on January 14, WHO said there was no proof of human-to-human transmission, based on what Chinese officials claimed at the time.

On January 28, the director of WHO and the president of China held a symbolic meeting, and on January 30, the WHO director published a press release stating that the studies conducted by China were transparent.

Seeing that the coronavirus pandemic was a threat to the US as well, on January 30, Trump announced that flights from China were banned. On February 4, in criticism of Trump’s decision regarding China, the WHO secretary-general responded, “Do not spread fear for traveling.”

Apart from the US, there was discomfort about the World Health Organization in other countries as well. For instance, in the international pandemic meeting held in the Japanese parliament last week, the Japanese deputy prime minister said that the name WHO should be replaced with CHO (China Health Organization) after Taiwan was left out.  

The statements made by Canadian Dr Aylward from the World Health Organization via Skype on a Hong Kong radio channel drew reactions from across the world as he disregarded Taiwan. All in all, discriminating among countries, especially when the topic is health, was not something how the WHO should have conducted itself.

I understand the discomfort of a country like the US where over 20 percent of WHO funding originates. It's clear now that China was not transparent. It did not warn the world about the pandemic in time, and it continued to hide behind this organisation.

It's plausible that after achieving a certain level of success in the fight against the coronavirus, President Trump will cut off contributions to the WHO on a large scale.

At the US Congress, eight anti-China resolutions regarding Covid-19 have been tabled; at least, that was the number of resolutions I counted. 

Additionally, Senator Josh Hawley and Representative Elise Stefanik said that China sent this scourge on the US and proposed a bill that stipulated China pay compensation for it.

Although President Trump cannot talk tough enough about China because of the historical trade agreement he made, he will give the WHO, which supports China, a serious message when the time is right.

It should not be forgotten that during Trump’s term, the US has pulled out from UNESCO and UNHRC. Likewise, by threatening NATO, Trump said, “I will either pay less, or the members will pay their shares.”

We should emphasise that China has clearly made big mistakes, and that’s why the US will continue its policy of “I paid the most, so you have to do what I want.”

Now every nation will become more selfish. The spread of concepts like “before corona” and “after corona” will become commonplace. 

The new world order is on the way. Be prepared!