Donald Trump has made himself the voice of those who feel disenfranchised by the political system, by questioning the status quo of establishment dogmas. He is no stranger to criticising international organizations.
With the appointment of Nikky Haley as his U.N. ambassador, the president has shown that he is willing to reconsider funding for political purposes.
The World Health Organization (WHO) should be effected by similar scrutiny.
The WHO is a specialized agency of the U.N., operating with a budget of over $4 billion dollars. The U.S. remains the largest contributor to this budget, but what does it actually get in return? Are the large inputs actually effective in improving the health of those unable to receive it in problematic areas? Experts differ.
One of the failures of the WHO was represented during the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. As Reuters reported in 2015, a specialist panel convened by Harvard’s Global Health Institute (HGHI) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) concluded that immense human suffering went "largely unchecked" by institutional responders. In fact, it turned out that the WHO knew about the outbreak in spring, yet only started acting in August, which meant that it acted well after the American public was already following it on the news.
Even more striking though is how cozy WHO officials are with dictators. recently elected WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom was quick to name Zimbabwe’s long-time dictator Robert Mugabe a "goodwill ambassador" of the WHO.
Fortunately, massive public backlash made him reverse that decision within days.
This has not prevented WHO experts from countries with questionable human rights record to take advantage of the agency's generous travel policies. The WHO's travel expenses for one year are $200 million according to The Washington Post.
This means that every single staffer racks up a total of $28,500 per year. In March of 2017, the Associated Press reported that the World Health Organization spent more for the travel of 7,000 staffers than it did for countering Malaria, tuberculosis, fighting AIDS, and hepatitis, and on tackling mental health and substance abuse. The agency is simultaneously demanding for its budget to be increased, as it doesn't seem to have enough money to fulfil its healthcare-providing role.
Donald Trump personally, since he tweeted in December of 2016 that "the United Nations has such great potential but right now it is just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time."
Since 2013, WHO has paid out $803 million for travel, and even internal memos try to make former Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan aware of the problem, some entitled "ACTIONS TO CONTAIN TRAVEL COSTS" in all caps.
Given the outrageous nature of the WHO expenses and the inability to address major crises, it should be important for the president to reconsider U.S funding for the World Health Organization.
Bill Wirtz is a political commentator currently based in Belgium. His articles have been published by Newsweek, The American Conservative, the Washington Examiner, Le Monde, and Le Figaro. He is a Young Voices Advocate, a regular contributor for the Foundation for Economic Education, and works as a Policy Analyst for the Consumer Choice Center. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.