Trump Moves to Pull US out of WHO: A Devastating Blow to Global Health


The US has officially notified the World Health Organization it will withdraw from one of the UN’s agencies owing to its close ties with China and a sluggish response to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Experts from around the world warn that the move will hamper the universal struggle against the COVID-19 and sap the US of global influence. In the same vein, the move was praised by conservatives who had defendant WHO of harboring pro-China bias and contended that WHO was not a fruitful use of funds.

The WHO is the leading international body with a decree to support global public health. Since the establishment, the WHO implemented various projects to prevent, control, and treat many grave diseases like Ebola, Measles, HIV, AIDS, Malaria, and the current COVID-19. Since Trump administrations came into power, the US has withdrawn from the UN Human Rights Council, UN cultural agency UNESCO, and the global climate accord and now the WHO.

The US is the single largest contributor to the WHO, provided more than $400 million in 2019. The question is, after the US halt funding to the WHO, what will the consequences be? Moreover, will China or the EU will fill the vacuum? The EU, by all means, convinced President Trump to take back the verdict to reinstate funding to the body for effectual effort against the global plague. Meanwhile, President Trump says he will continue to fund global health through its health agencies and aid groups as a substitute for the WHO. In fact, the US administration might be observing for replacements to fund global health organizations, and it stated that the US States Department is circulating a proposal for $2.5 billion to fund overseas health agencies to fight, control and treat pandemics.

Throughout WHO’s 72 years of history, the US has been the leading player and the biggest sponsor. Owing to the WHO funding cycle, the US contributed approximately $892 million more than twice as much as other states. Consequently, such vast sponsorship and closer affiliation with the WHO put the US at the center of the world’s most significant public’s well-being considerate state. The US has a large number of medical doctors, scientists, medicinal drug developers, epidemiologists, and other related people who are working day and night to fight against pandemic and come up with updated countermeasures. Consequently, US divergence from WHO means the exclusion of all endowed staff, and more than the money, the world will lose unity and collaboration as well, which will undoubtedly damage the WHO by all means.

When it is come to funding, for the 2016-2107 period, the US generously invested more than US $945.5 million, in which 76% came from volunteer funding. The main areas where the US invested, polio, HIV hepatitis, tuberculosis, emergency operation, vaccine-preventable diseases, as well as access to health and other management. The graph below shows that the US is the most significant contributor in terms of both assessed and volunteer contributions.

Source: World Health Organization

Unlike the assessed contribution, assessed dollars or payment means, regular payment to the WHO, which is directly going to the WHO treasure and are consumed at the agency’s decision. The volunteer contribution is the contribution of some states to fight and control specific issues; the volunteer funds are given for exact use. If combined, the US is spending more than any other country; it is estimated that between 2018-2019 the US voluntarily spent almost $165 million for the eradication of polio worldwide.

Henceforward halting funds to the WHO will affect the efficiency of the organization, and it is clear that the organization may not be able to come up with updated countermeasures for any new plague. However, it is worthy of keeping in mind that the US cannot sever the relation by snapping the fingers; under US law, the country must give a year’s warning, and necessity meets the monetary responsibility, which means nothing would change until mid-2021.

Leaving A Power Vacuum Behind

What has changed in the last two decades, the world has never experienced previously, the political, social, economics, and every aspect of life is changing. The power is shifting, and the world order is gradually declining, the influential states are swaying the rest of the states by different means. Meanwhile, the shape of the world is changing, and every state is trying to adjust itselfso as to survive. In the intervening time, this year brought numerous challenges to almost everyone as well; thousands of people died due to the current pandemic, millions are suffered, and the waves continue.

As the world failed to fight the pandemic, the US moving away from one of the top organizations the WHO, leaving a power vacuum behind. China, on the other hand, is trying to fill the gap, in current harsh circumstances, the WHO need funds to fight the pandemic. An estimate shows that China’s WHO contributions have grown by almost 52% since 2015 to roughly $86 million. In the same vein, volunteer contribution rose from $8.7 million in 2014 to $10.2 million in 2019.

For the time being, when the Trump administration halted funding to the WHO, Beijing pledged an additional $30 million to cover the necessity, in the same vein President Xi in May announced that Beijing would donate $2 billion to rheostat the pandemic, which high spot that Beijing is equipped to fill in the US’s position and raise the subsidy. If this happened, the WHO would become a battleground for the two superpowers; the US will move away, and China ought to effort to become the most crucial part of the WHO in terms of funding and active participation.

Asad Ullah
Asad Ullah
Majoring International Relations at Shandong University, Shandong Qingdao China


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