Would Bill Gates be a good president

Trump and his threat to the World Health Organization

Why is President Trump threatening to withdraw US membership fees from WHO?

The majority of the US media believe that the president wants to distract attention from his own failure to deal with the corona epidemic - he denied the dangers from February to mid-March - and that Donald Trump is therefore looking for a new foreign policy enemy in China. His general aversion to multilateralism and international organizations can also play a role in this.

Trump has previously threatened not to pay the US membership fee to the United Nations and to leave NATO. In addition, the "Wall Street Journal" speculates that there is an ongoing attempt in the Trump administration to increase the number of American employees in the international organizations for which the United States would contribute.

What are the reactions to Donald Trump's threat?

Ex-Premier Brown: "act of self-destruction"

Worldwide criticism is sharp. Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who is calling for a kind of world government to fight the coronavirus, told Deutsche Welle: "On March 26, after the G20 meeting, Donald Trump signed a communiqé, according to which the mandate of the WHO was strengthened, The funding for disaster response should be increased, more money should be made available for the development of a new vaccine and for the problems of the developing countries. That is not a logical step by the President. This is an act of self-destruction, because if we protect ourselves locally in Germany or in the USA then we have to act globally ". If one were to leave African countries alone with their underdeveloped health systems now, Brown said, the virus threatens to come back in a second or third wave.

Bill Gates, one of WHO's largest private donors, writes on Twitter: "Stopping funding for the World Health Organization during a global health crisis is as dangerous as it sounds. Your work is slowing the spread of COVID-19 and when that work stops, no other organization can replace it. The world needs WHO more than ever. "

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Similar sharp reactions are coming from medical and research organizations around the world. And EU chief diplomat Josep Borrell writes on Twitter: "We deeply regret the US decision to stop funding the WHO. There is no justification for where its work is needed more than ever." And the German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is of the opinion that pointing blame does not help: "One of the best investments is to strengthen the United Nations, above all the underfunded WHO, for example in the development and distribution of tests and vaccines."

Does the WHO have to stop working because of the US threat?

The US threat is unlikely to have any direct impact on the work of the WHO. At least the membership fee of the participating countries is due on January 1st of each year, so it should have already been paid. It is unclear what this looks like with the voluntary contributions for 2020. In view of the manageable sums by international standards, however, it should be possible to temporarily close an expected gap in view of the Corona crisis through an emergency aid campaign by private and state donors.

How is WHO funded?

The World Health Organization is financed from compulsory contributions from member countries, which are calculated according to economic performance, voluntary contributions from states and donations from the private sector or from non-governmental organizations. Only around 20 percent of the budget comes from membership fees, which have been frozen for years without inflation adjustment.

The total budget of the organization for 2020 is around 4.4 billion US dollars, which is roughly the same as the budget of the University Hospital of Geneva, where the WHO is based. For at least twenty years it has been criticized that it is constantly underfunded.

US President Trump: dangers denied

80 percent of the budget comes from voluntary contributions. One of the largest private donors is the Bill Gates Foundation with eight percent. Great Britain leads the member states, followed by the European Union with six percent and Germany with five percent. These contributions add up to around 3.4 billion of the WHO budget. The organization has always suffered from late payments.

The USA is always named the largest contributor in this context. This is true insofar as they account for around 10 percent of the total budget of the WHO with around 235 million US dollars in compulsory contributions and around 200 million in voluntary contributions. However, these sums are rather small for an organization with such extensive tasks. The economic power China, however, pays only 86 million dollars to the WHO and the paltry sum of 10 million in voluntary contributions. Perhaps this disproportion also aroused the ire of Donald Trump.

What is the WHO doing anyway?

The World Health Organization deals with a bewildering array of health-related problems and interventions around the world.

  • Observation of antibiotic-resistant pathogens
  • Women's health, like maternal mortality in developing countries
  • Vaccination campaigns - the eradication of polio is one of the success stories
  • Combating Chronic Diseases
  • Crisis response to disease outbreaks
  • Fighting pandemics
  • General guidelines for healthy living
  • Recommendations for health systems

For years it has been criticized that the WHO addresses too many individual problems and should instead focus on a number of core tasks and on the publication of guidelines and principles. However, an agreement among the 194 member countries of the organization seems impossible on how and where such priorities should be set.

Criticism of the WHO

The criticism of the World Health Organization is as old as it is: it affects every aspect of its work, its directors-general, the confusing abundance of its tasks, the lack of transparency in its budgets and accusations of political interference. Such reviews fill entire libraries.

WHO chief Tedros: reaction too late?

An example of current criticism comes from François Godement, Asia expert at the French think tank "Montaigne". He accuses WHO Director General Tedros Ghebrayesus of having accepted the Chinese statements and data on Corona too uncritically at the beginning and therefore reacted too late. There are similar voices from various research organizations.

However, the WHO depends on the voluntary cooperation of the member countries: its experts were only allowed to travel to Wuhan on February 12 to study the spread of the disease on site. Until then, she actually had to rely on Beijing's information.