• Bryan

Trump Scapegoats The WHO To Deflect From Own Failings

President Donald Trump's decision to defund the World Health Organisation (WHO) is a dangerous attempt to deflect attention from his abysmal failure in handling the pandemic.

Trump accuses the WHO of severely mismanaging the pandemic and helping Chinese authorities in their initial attempts to cover up the spread of the virus in China.

The WHO certainly made serious mistakes in how it processed and used information coming from China about the pandemic.

In January Chinese authorities were trying to conceal the extent of the outbreak in Wuhan - the epicentre of the outbreak in China. Local doctors like Dr Li Wenliang were alerting authorities to evidence of human-to-human transmission but were threatened and harassed by police in order to silence them.

It was a grave error by the WHO to rely on the information obtained from Chinese authorities. Repeating the erroneous statements by Chinese authorities that there was no human-to-human transmission has caused not just reputational damage to the WHO, but also delayed planning and response around the world.

The major problem for the WHO, which is an arm of the United Nations (UN) and has many similarities, is that can only work in partnership with member states. It can not force its way into a member state to investigate or verify public health matters, and in this case, it was almost impossible to establish the veracity of the information provided by Chinese authorities.

Trump is right that the WHO should not have relied too heavily on the information from Chinese authorities, however the way the who operates is by doing precisely that - relying on the integrity and willingness of individual countries to cooperate with it to deliver its public health objectives.

The alternative would be a confrontation with China, which will almost certainly make it impossible for the WHO to carry out its work in China. This flaw in how the WHO is set up and the fallout from its dealings with China, have given Donald Trump an opportunity that he wasn't going to miss, to try and deflect from his own failures in handling the pandemic.

Trump initially downplayed the virus, describing it as similar to the flu and suggesting that it would go away when the weather got warmer.  The consequence of not taking the pandemic seriously earlier on was that valuable time was lost leading to inadequate planning and strengthening health institutions.

Dr Anthony Fauci head of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of Trump's White House coronavirus task force said that the federal government could have acted sooner to limit the spread of coronavirus.