The WHO Was Already Effectively Defunded

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Trump made a big show of it and provoked international condemnation when he ordered his regime to cut off funding for the World Health Organization (WHO), but here's something I didn't know: we had already effectively done so.

Seeking to deflect blame for the extent of our coronavirus outbreak from himself onto the U.N. body, Trump cut off funding that was already cut off last year.

We never paid last year's dues.

"We were already in arrears before he said anything," says Kolker, who was an assistant secretary for global health affairs during the Obama administration. [...]

Amid the worst global health disaster of the past century, he notes that close to $200 million was already past due the WHO.

No country owes the World Health Organization more in annual dues than the United States. The $118 million that Washington is supposed to pay the group this year amounts to nearly a quarter of the annual fees the WHO assesses to all 194 of its member states.

On top of this year's overdue payment, according to the WHO, the U.S. also still owes $81 million from last year.

While Trump points fingers at the organization, one wonders what effect the lack of funding may have had on the group before the current crisis.

To say our current crisis may have been prevented or reduced in scope if we had fully funded the organization last year is probably a stretch too far, but we don't know.

Even if that were not the case in this instance, it definitely was in others. The Trump regime defunded and dismantled our own pandemic response programs set up by the Obama administration and even shuttered offices in China that were responsible for monitoring outbreaks exactly like the one we have now.

Suffice to say, $118 million in funding for the World Health Organization is less than a drop in the federal bucket. It's also about a fifth of what states and municipalities routinely spend subsiding new football stadiums and the dividends it pays (in the form of preventing public health tragedies) are far higher.

  • Christopher Foxx

    and the dividends it pays (in the form of preventing public health tragedies) are far higher.

    Of course Trump and Co don’t see the benefits of this. They’d have to understand what investing is and what what dividends actually are.

  • muselet

    Rs generally are skeptical, to say the least, of international organizations the US can’t control. Donald Trump has a visceral hatred of international organizations, full stop. When the government of a country as large, rich and powerful as the US decides there’s no such thing as the common good, bad things happen.

    It gets worse:

    “It may be the case that the United States can never return to underwriting, having U.S. taxpayer dollars go to, the WHO,” [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo told Fox host Laura Ingraham. “We may need to be, have even bolder change than that.”

    According to Pompeo’s director of foreign assistance, James Richardson, the secretary of state and former CIA director wants to redirect global health funding to groups other than the WHO.

    “There are plenty of amazing and highly qualified organizations implementing these programs around the world,” Richardson told reporters late last month at a State Department briefing, “and to be honest, no organization — or country, for that matter — is owed a single nickel from the American people.”

    [link omitted]

    The cynic in me wonders if one or more of those “amazing and highly qualified organizations” are run by a Trump or a Kushner, but that’s unworthy. Isn’t it?