A novel virus. Meaning, a virus never seen before. The coronavirus has been uncharted territory, posing challenges to all facets of healthcare and public health organizations. The WHO is no exception. But, despite this well-known fact, President Trump has decided to defund the WHO for their response to the outbreak. He stands by his claim of delayed intervention when the virus emerged in China, as well as the WHO reporting low suspicion of human to human transmission. But as more information became available, the WHO retracted their statement and was allowed to enter China for research, though by then thousands of cases had already been reported. President Trump has had his own opinion on how to handle the situation. And now the United States currently has the highest number of cases, as well as deaths, in the world.
The United States covers around 15% of the WHO budget, and contributes around $400m a year. The WHO conducts ground-breaking research and runs programs that range from Malaria prevention, to non-communicable disease, to health promotion and more. They cover over 150 countries with over 7000 people within the organization.
So, is halting funding to the largest global public health organization a good idea during a novel global health pandemic? Is cutting off resources for the research and understanding of this infectious process the best approach? Should money be used as a punishment for not providing data fast enough? If this investment is pulled, how else does the country plan to obtain research and information on this virus, as well as other diseases threatening our future? Is it ever a good idea to defund the investment into the health, well-being and safety of your population?
In my opinion this decision, if carried through, will have dire consequences. If anything, now is the time to invest the most in global and public health, because the difficulties faced with Coronavirus have been clearly demonstrated. We need to continue to move forward, and better prepare ourselves for future pandemics. As we have seen, this virus has crippled countries socially, economically and medically. If this continues, or were to occur again, people will continue to suffer. And the people are what make this country. And if you cannot stand behind funding the health of your people, what makes you worthy of being their leader?
If you disagree with the defunding of the WHO, please reach out to your Congressional representatives.