Now, of all times, the World Health Organization is losing its largest funder. This could have fatal consequences, particularly for the Global South.*
Donald Trump has made mistake after mistake with respect to the pandemic. He ignored early warnings. He downplayed the risk of the coronavirus, saying he had the situation under control. He lied about there being enough tests available, held back on implementing a lockdown, and began purchasing personal protective equipment for medical staff and patients when it was already far too late.
However, instead of acknowledging his mistakes, the U.S. president launched an outright attack on another institution on what ironically had been the deadliest day of the pandemic. He accused the World Health Organization of a cover-up and of not being transparent. What’s more, Trump halted U.S. funding to the WHO, which could lose up to 15% of its budget as a consequence.
This is not the first time that Trump has tried to blame others or create a distraction to divert attention away from his own failures. Providing insight or modifying his actions are things Trump does not do. When he goes on the defensive, he seeks to point the blame somewhere else. Even in times of pandemic, Trump stays true to himself.
There is more at stake, however, than the usual propaganda from the White House, more at stake than than the U.S. presidential election in November. Millions of lives are at stake – the lives of those living in the U.S. as well as those living on the rest of the planet. Of course Trump is not responsible for the coronavirus, but he is responsible for how the U.S. superpower handles the pandemic. Trump has manifestly disqualified himself both on the national stage and with respect to international cooperation.
The 26,000 COVID-19 deaths registered as of April 15 represent an unbearably high number of lives lost. However, the Global South faces an even worse situation. The WHO is needed there right now, more than ever before. He who undermines international cooperation at this point in time makes himself partially responsible for the consequences.
*Editor’s note: The Global South is an emerging term used by the World Bank to refer to low and middle income countries located in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean which stand in contrast to the high income nations of the Global North.
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