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Trump: I might defund this useless WHO, you know

Love him or loathe him, he’s right here:

“The WHO really blew it,” Mr Trump said in a Twitter post.

“For some reason, funded largely by the United States, yet very China-centric. We will be giving that a good look.

“Fortunately I rejected their advice on keeping our borders open to China early on. Why did they give us such a faulty recommendation?”

When the history of this crisis is written, the obsession global institutions had with, well, globalism, will probably be ignored, because much of approved history these days is written by people with very fixed pro-globalisation views, and those that don’t have them tend to be on the left, where airing those views is an impediment to selling history books. But just because it won’t be said doesn’t mean it’s not true.

The World Health Organisation, the body supposed to be in charge of global health, was objectively more concerned with the politics of global travel than it was in keeping a disease contained. In other words, it was refusing to do its job because the necessary steps conflicted with an ingrained political ideology. Sounds a lot like China (and, if we’re honest, the US, where Trump himself was so committed to propping up the markets that he waited too long to shut down the country).

Anyway, here’s the World Health Organisation on January 31st:

“restricting the movement of people and goods during public health emergencies is ineffective in most situations and may divert resources from other interventions.”

Here’s a simple question: If that was true on the last day of January, why is it untrue now? The facts haven’t changed very much, they’ve just become more widespread. There was a deadly epidemic on that day, as much as there is today. The only thing that has changed is that there is now a deadly epidemic in more places.

So we’re left with one of two conclusions: Either the WHO was correct, and Coronavirus would have spread widely even if all traffic was locked down (in which case, the present restrictions on business and trade and travel across the world are completely pointless), or the WHO issued, and has kept issuing, immensely crappy advice. My own money, for the record, is firmly on the second option.

But travel isn’t the only area of complete failure. Consider the fact that the WHO has consistently and persistently failed to listen to prescient warnings from Taiwan, for the simple reason that China doesn’t like it when people listen to Taiwan:

There is an island nation off the southeastern coast of China where public health officials saw the pandemic coming—and took action before China did. Nearly three months after reporting its first confirmed case of Covid-19, this country has only reported 348 positive diagnoses and five deaths. It was one of the earliest countries to be hit and has one of the lowest infection rates.

But you wouldn’t know any of this if you got your information from the World Health Organization. The country is Taiwan, which the WHO refuses to recognize as a sovereign state.

Despite early warnings from Taiwanese officials, the organization kept the island cut off from its global information networks. Now, it may be the rest of the world that’s paying the price.

What is the point of having a world health organisation, exactly, if that organisation ignores health information from a country for explicitly political reasons?

None. There’s no point.

And how much does the WHO cost every year?

4.5billion dollars, is the answer. The vast majority of which comes from the United States.

So US taxpayers are funding an organisation that gives bad advice, ignores evidence, and generally has been worse than useless during the first proper global health crisis in a century?

Trump is right. It’s a waste of money. And he’s not alone in noticing. It was the Japanese, after all, who said a week ago it should be properly called the China Health Organisation.

Shut it down.


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