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Trump Tries Shifting Blame To W.H.O As Recession Becomes Inevitable


President Trump and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO. Photo: Alex Brandon/AP; Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

Posted: April 16, 2020 at 3:01 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

On Tuesday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) published a report predicting the global economy will “contract sharply by –3 percent in 2020” due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In anticipation of a recession far worse than either the Great Depression or the Global Financial Crisis of 2008-09, the IMF made recommendations to policymakers via the report. “Effective policies are essential to forestall the possibility of worse outcomes, and the necessary measures to reduce contagion and protect lives are an important investment in long-term human and economic health,” they wrote. 

The outlook report shows the pandemic is anticipated to significantly impact growth in every country around the world, but effects on low-income, developing countries could be considerably more devastating.

To reduce those impacts, the IMF notes that “internationally, strong multilateral cooperation is essential to overcome the effects of the pandemic, including to help financially constrained countries facing twin health and funding shocks, and for channeling aid to countries with weak health care systems.”

Trump freezes US funding for W.H.O, leading multilateral health organization

In spite of a grim but strong warning from the IMF, Pres. Trump announced on Tuesday that he is suspending funds to the World Health Organization (W.H.O), which is the leading agency dedicated to the health of the international public. Trump says the $400 to $500 million he claims is provided to the WHO by the US yearly will be frozen pending a review of the organization’s alleged “role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of coronavirus.”

Trump himself has faced accusations of blame for his initial lack of effective response to the pandemic, including claims that a miracle would make the virus go away. “Trump’s orientation — his unilateralism, his transactional and his challenging personal relations with so many of our key allies — have made worse what was going to be a severe structural crisis irrespective of Trump,” said Ian Bremmer, president of the international risk-assessment Eurasia Group.

Furthermore, Trump’s response to early warnings from the WHO regarding the severity of the virus was arguably inadequate. Many feel that his administration’s lack of response put more citizens at greater risk and led to deaths that could have been prevented through preparation.

For instance, the W.H.O announced on January 29, 2020, that the “whole world needs to be on alert now. The whole world needs to take action and be ready for any cases that come from the epicenter or other epicenter that becomes established.”

Trump initially applauded China’s “transparency” and assured American citizens they had little to be concerned about. At a rally in early February, Trump told attendees, “Looks like by April, you know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away.”

As the pandemic accelerated, Trump still remained adamant that it was under control in the US. Three weeks before the Easter holiday, Trump seemed to ignore the increasing severity of the WHO’s warnings and said that he hoped churches would be able to congregate on Easter Sunday, “a very special day” for him. He asked, “Wouldn’t it be great to have all of the churches full?”

Such rhetoric led to argument about whether or not places of worship should be allowed to convene during a pandemic, and of course, when to re-open the American economy.

Now, Trump is apparently looking to scapegoat the W.H.O, which he claims could have done more to contain the outbreak in China. According to him, the response in the US should have been unnecessary. “Had the WHO done its job to get medical experts into China to objectively assess the situation on the ground and to call out China’s lack of transparency, the outbreak could have been contained at its source with very little death,” Trump claimed. 

On Wednesday, the White House released a statement reading, “The American people deserve better from the W.H.O, and no more funding will be provided until its mismanagement, cover-ups, and failures can be investigated.”

“We regret the decision of the president of the United States to order a halt in funding to the World Health Organization,” a WHO official said. The organization defended its response and noted it was “very, very clear” in early January that it was a “developing situation.”

The Trump administration also proposed a $65 million cut to the WHO for the fiscal year 2021 before the pandemic, suggesting this could be the latest attempt to reduce US funding to the organization while also deflecting blame for the virus spread from himself.

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