Tia Dufour

World News

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WHO Should be in Charge?

Now that we are in a time of uncertainty and fear, we’ve forgotten many things. We focus so much on ourselves, but how are we supposed to thrive during this historic time period when we forget about the people who need help the most? As Pennsylvania’s sixth week of quarantine begins, the hopelessness has begun to settle in. Two weeks ago, President Donald Trump announced that he was going to halt funding to the World Health Organization. The Trump administration accuses the WHO of being a leading cause of the COVID-19 contagion. Trump believes that the WHO withheld the extent of the outbreak, and “helped China cover up the origin and extent of its coronavirus outbreak.”

The United States pays about 17% of the WHO’s budget, and in return, the WHO funds COVID-19 response to many different countries around the world, many of which are extremely vulnerable. This has all been an attempt by the president to deflect from his administration’s lack of response to the pandemic.

Cutting off funds to the WHO will be a huge blow to the organization because it is in the midst of conducting vaccine trials, advising different governments, and distributing testing kits around the world. This decision has received immense blowback from different communities around the United States. The medical community has said, “[defunding WHO] would undercut global efforts to combat a disease that’s sickened nearly 2 million people worldwide and still has no proven cure or vaccine.” The irony is that Trump accused the WHO of “severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus,” though it seems he is talking about himself.

The current administration has failed to combat this pandemic in a calm, rational way. They failed to meet their own goals laid out in their pandemic plan that was already prepared back in 2017, they failed to communicate effectively with the public, and they failed to help the citizens of the U.S. understand how to prepare for this crisis. Students are out of school, employees are unemployed, food is short, the cost for basic necessities is now being inflated, and to what cost? Now, an international organization aiding multiple countries has lost its main source of funding. Trump’s move to defund the WHO goes directly against his Pandemic Preparedness Plan. How could a leader contradict himself to such a great extent?

This has led to other people stepping up to do the government’s job, one being Bill Gates. Bill and Melinda Gates have announced that they are going to contribute an additional $150 million to help combat the pandemic. Overall, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged $250 million. This donation is going “to support development of diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines; help strengthen African and South Asian health systems; and help mitigate the social and economic impacts of the virus,” the Gates Foundation said in a press release. “Halting funding for the World Health Organization during a world health crisis is as dangerous as it sounds. Their work is slowing the spread of COVID-19 and if that work is stopped no other organization can replace them. The world needs @WHO now more than ever,” Bill Gates tweeted.

Many Democrats have stated that it would be illegal for Trump to defund the WHO, though this ignited a large, partisan dispute. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement that the president’s halting of funding to the WHO was senseless, and the only way to defeat COVID-19 is through a “coordinated international response with respect for science and data.” This feels like a blame game in which Trump is deflecting from his own bad moves, and as a consequence, millions of Americans will suffer. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s donation to the WHO was the second-largest after the U.S. government, so really, who should be in charge?