The POTUS Trump’s rage is against the World Health Organization (WHO) and he believes that its China he’s firing upon, but it’s the poor, ill-equipped countries of Africa that his attack would fatally wound.
When President Trump takes aim, it more often than not him looking toward London while talking to Tokyo. So, when he accused the World Health Organization as being “China-centric”, his words fell harshest on the ears of the poorest nations in the world in Africa. When he claimed that the United States would cut the WHO’s funding, an entire continent simultaneously skipped a heartbeat.
Highlights! United States President Donald Trump’s threat to the WHO indirectly threatens Africa
- Trump’s grudge with “China-centric” WHO
- What the United States’ contribution to WHO means for African nations
- Africa’s weak healthcare infrastructure and weak-immunity of the population
- WHO’s role in readying African countries for the coronavirus pandemic
- How Africa will be affected if Trump follows through on his threat
- Unfazed WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom prefers to focus on the pandemic instead of politics
The coronavirus pandemic is spreading across Africa at a scary pace with cases nearing 13,000 with almost 700 deaths with cases in 52 out of the 54 nations. While the Americas, Europe, and Asia have rich countries with developed healthcare infrastructures, for the poor African nations, WHO aid and expertise is the only hope in fights against dreaded epidemics like the well-documented Ebola virus.
The United States is the biggest contributor to WHO’s funds at 15 percent in 2019. So, in these circumstances, Trump’s jibe and threat to withdraw funding leaves the continent at grave risk in the fight against COVID-19.
Trump’s grudge with China and WHO
In one of his staged and live telecasted daily briefings, which are ridden with propaganda, Trump talked as if the US owns the World Health Organization – “You know, we fund it,” POTUS said. He also accused WHO and Director-General Tedros Adhanom of failing to call out the pandemic. It is significant to note that any change in the US’ funding to the WHO will hardly impact China.
“They called it wrong. Every aspect of it wrong.”US President Donald Trump on the WHO’s initial handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the contrary, it’s impact on third-world nations in Africa and South America will be massive. Neither do most of the African nations have adequate health systems nor the resources to amplify the infrastructure in such times of emergency. Add to that the fact that the continent’s population suffered from pre-existing health conditions and weakened immunity due to malnutrition and unhealthy living scenario.
African Nations disagree with Trump
WHO’s main man Tedros Adhanom is from Ethiopia and has the backing of his continent. When Trump condemned Adhanom of defending China’s failure in curbing the healthcare crisis from going overseas, African heads of states came to Adhanom and the WHO’s rescue. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa who is also the Chairman of the African Union extended “unwavering support” to Adhanom.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari urged “global solidarity” highlighting the fact that the coronavirus pandemic is an existential battle for mankind. Former Chad Prime Minister Moussa Faki Mahamat urged Trump to remain focused on collectively fighting COVID-19 as a united global community”, saying that time for accountability will come later.
A well-funded WHO is Africa’s only savior
If Trump does follow through on his words, the impact will be significant. Health experts believe that Trump slashing WHO contribution might directly lead to a larger number of coronavirus fatalities in Africa. Hence, the US’ contribution is pivotal in WHO’s assistance in strengthening the substandard medical infrastructure across the continent.
Health experts believe that Trump slashing WHO contribution might directly lead to a larger number of coronavirus deaths in Africa.
Till now, the WHO’s strategy to check outbreaks from worsening in African nations has seen preparatory measures. These include training of healthcare workers, infection surveillance, case management, and also laboratory diagnostics training. It is working closely with the AU, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and other also agencies.
The WHO funding and also resources have helped all 54 African countries create national response plans. In fact, 80 WHO outbreak experts are working day and night in 30 countries to help them have emergency readiness. Namibian President Hage Geingob praised Adhanom’s leadership stating that the WHO has proved itself to be “a true flag-bearer of multilateralism when global solidarity has become critical”.
Why Trump putting WHO in jeopardy matters for Africa?
WHO’s regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti recently informed the world that recovery rates in Africa are slightly lower compared to other continents at 9.4 percent. With 18 African countries having less than 20 confirmed cases as of now, Moeti went on to state that there still is an opportunity to contain the threat of mass outbreaks. However, the fightback faces major challenges in the procurement of medical supplies and equipment.
“This pandemic is continuing to rapidly evolve in Africa.”WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti
The African chapter of the WHO is grappling to decentralize the outbreak response. It aims at the expansion of testing capacity beyond large capital cities. It also aims to use the existing polio infrastructure – a continent-wide network of community health workers, volunteers, and partners.
“I would prefer to focus on saving lives.”WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom on criticism
Despite Trump’s irrational threat and divisive approach to the global fight against the pandemic, Director-General Tedros Adhanom remains unconcerned by all the noise around. “I would prefer to focus on saving lives,” said Adhanom who revealed he has been receiving racist insults and even death threats since the coronavirus became a pandemic.
However, some experts call Trump’s statement unguarded, also saying that the President’s words shouldn’t be taken seriously as the US immensely benefits from the WHO in “pandemic control and public health regulations”.