Last night, Trump announced that he was ending US funding for the World Health Organisation (WHO). At a time when it’s important to pull together — especially considering that Covid-19 is about to hit developing countries in a very real way — the president has taken action against global cooperation. Many never dreamed that this is how America would respond to a global pandemic, but here we are.
There have been questions about how director-general of the WHO, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, has handled the coronavirus pandemic. In mid-January, the WHO’s Twitter account tweeted that there was “no clear evidence” that Covid-19 could transfer from human to human. Many have worried that the organisation was complacent or too close to China, including Trump; he may be right on that point.
But Trump’s decision will further stretch what is already close to breaking point. And it’s worth noting that the WHO needs to have close relations with China, because there’s a high possibility new diseases could emerge from there (before the novel coronavirus, think SARS.) It makes sense to maintain a sensible friendship with a country at high risk of producing global disease; the last thing you want is that country withholding information, or refusing to cooperate, in dire circumstances.