Guy Farmer: De-funding the World Health Organization

I've been bashing President Trump quite regularly in recent columns because he earned our contempt and scorn with his crazy and/or stupid comments in his daily coronavirus briefings. Nevertheless, it's only fair to give him credit when he does something right, and that's what he did when he decided to temporarily withhold U.S. contributions to the World Health Organization.

Based in Geneva, Switzerland, one of the world's most expensive cities, the WHO throws our tax money around as if it's going out of style and it won't surprise you to learn that the U.S. is the largest contributor to the organization's bloated budget, paying nearly 20 percent of its annual expenses. We contribute about $300 million to WHO's annual budget while China contributes $73 million. Is that fair?

"WHO failed in its basic duty and must be held accountable," President Trump said when announcing a hold on WHO funding for 60 to 90 days. The Wall Street Journal, which has been harshly critical of the president in recent editorials, praised his decision and commented that "thousands of lives would have been saved if the agency had done its job" by focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic instead of disseminating "Chinese propaganda."

"WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus (an Ethiopian communist known as 'Dr. Tedros,'), has shown how easily the top job can be abused," the Journal editorial continued. "With China's preferred director general criticizing Washington and praising Beijing as a model, what influence does the U.S. have to lose?" Not much. You should also know that Dr. Tedros made brutal dictator Robert Mugabe a "goodwill ambassador" to Africa, which is disgusting.

"The WHO has been an ineffective and wasteful organization in desperate need of reform for at least a decade," medical intelligence expert Lyman Stone wrote in The Dispatch. He noted that the WHO spends $200 to $600 million per year on travel expenses "to buy plane tickets and book expensive hotel rooms for prestigious experts to give speeches and present papers at conferences."

The WHO spends twice as much on travel as it does on medicines and medical supplies. By contrast, Stone disclosed that Doctors Without Borders, a respected international organization, sends five times as many doctors to pandemic hotspots while spending less than one-third of the WHO's travel budget.

Of course the WHO is affiliated with the United Nations, which treats Uncle Sam like Uncle Sucker when preparing its annual budget, which increases by an average of 15 percent per year. At present, the U.S. pays 22 percent of the UN's "regular" budget (nearly $10 billion) and 27 percent of peacekeeping costs plus hundreds of millions more in "special assessments."

And moreover, just five nations – the U.S., Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom and France – provide more than 50 percent of the total UN budget while "developing countries" like Brazil, China and India pay much less. It's time to redress that imbalance while holding China responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed column, Sen. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, alleged that the COVID-19 virus could have originated in either or both of two virus research laboratories in Wuhan, China, one of which is barely 300 yards from the outdoor "wet market" that China blames for the outbreak. "The labs collect live animals (including bats) to study viruses," the senator wrote. Although China denies the possibility of a lab leak, Cotton added, "its actions tell a different story."

Bottom line: The obvious, coordinated cover-up by China and the WHO should be thoroughly investigated. Meanwhile, the WHO should fire China's apologist/mouthpiece, Dr. Tedros, to restore a measure of credibility to the organization.

Guy W. Farmer is the Appeal's senior political columnist.


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