Coronavirus

The WHO Was Already Effectively Defunded

SK Ashby
Written by SK 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.