Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Trump halts funds to WHO - questions stand toeing China line


You may or may not like him – but he is ruthless !

Better health for everyone, everywhere .. .. We are building a better, healthier future for people all over the world. Working with 194 Member States, across six regions, and from more than 150 offices, WHO staff are united in a shared commitment to achieve better health for everyone, everywhere. Together we strive to combat diseases – communicable diseases like influenza and HIV, and noncommunicable diseases like cancer and heart disease.  .. .. and so claims their website www.who.int

The World Health Organization (WHO) was founded as the UN global health body in 1948 in the aftermath of the second world war with a mandate to promote global health, protect against infectious disease and to serve the vulnerable. It was inspired by the international sanitary conferences of the 19th century set up to combat communicable diseases such as cholera, yellow fever and plague.  It is part of the U.N. Sustainable Development Group. The WHO Constitution, which establishes the agency's governing structure and principles, states its main objective as ensuring "the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health." It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, with six semi-autonomous regional offices and 150 field offices worldwide.

The current Director-General is Tedros Adhanom, former Health Minister and Foreign Minister of Ethiopia, who began his five-year term on 1 July 2017. The WHO relies on assessed and voluntary contributions from member states and private donors for funding.  If you had noticed, the domain name is ____.int – ‘.int’  is a sponsored top-level domain (sTLD) in the Domain Name System of the Internet. Its name is derived from the word international, characterizing its use for international organizations and treaty-related purposes. The first use of this domain was by NATO, which had previously been assigned the top-level domain nato.

Whatever be the name, intent and protocol, the World Heath Organisation has found itself with serious questions to answer after President Trump accused the UN agency of 'severely mismanaging' its response to the coronavirus pandemic and withheld $500million in funding. The WHO has been spearheading global efforts to fight the virus, but has come under attack for playing along with China as the country sought to minimise its initial outbreak and the threat the disease posed. Critics point to its uncritical parroting of Chinese government data, early claims that the disease was not spreading person-to-person, and praise for the country's leaders as evidence that it was not fulfilling its role.

Donald Trump - who is facing heavy criticism for his own response - has blasted the WHO for advising against travel bans, which he claims 'accelerated the pandemic all around the world', and called for an investigation. The Mail Online has tracked key WHO statements about coronavirus - from the first cases, through China's outbreak, and beyond - to reveal what the world's largest health body said and when as the disease spread...

December 31 – China first reports a cluster of unusual pneumonia cases in Wuhan to the WHO.

January 4 – WHO tweets about ‘a cluster of pneumonia cases’ in Wuhan with no deaths, saying investigations into the cause are underway.

January 5 – The WHO issues its first guidance on ‘pneumonia of unknown cause’, saying there are a total of 44 patients and 11 in severe condition. The main symptom is listed as fever, with ‘a few patients having difficulty breathing’ .. The WHO says there is ‘no evidence of human-to-human transmission’ and that ‘no health care worker infections have been reported’

January 7 – China says it has identified the cause of the pneumonia as a ‘novel coronavirus’, initially named 2019-nCoV by the WHO.

China first reported cases of 'pneumonia of unknown cause' to the WHO on Dec 31, and the agency put out its first tweet on January 4 saying the cause was being investigated.  On Jan 9, Who in fact praised  China for identifying the new virus ‘in a short space of time’ and repeated its assessment that the virus ‘does not transmit readily between people’. It also advised against travel or trade restrictions on China

January 14 – The WHO tweets saying there is ‘no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission in China’, though later clarifies and says there may have been limited transmission via family members

Jan 21 – The first case is confirmed on US soil in Washington, in a person who had travelled from China a week before  & a day later, a report  from the WHO team sent to Wuhan notes ‘human-to-human’ transmission is taking place, but says more research is needed to assess ‘the full extent’. The report notes confirmed infections in 16 medics, a clear sign of transmission from patients.  The team recommends avoiding large gatherings, isolating infected people, and a focus on washing hands as the best way to combat the virus’s spread.
The same day, that WHO Emergency Committee convenes for the first time. Afterwards, Dr Tedros says he has spoken with the Chinese Minister for Health, and praises the government for its ‘invaluable’ efforts to halt the virus. He calls a second meeting for the following day.

Jan 23 – With the Emergency Committee split, Dr Tedros says he has decided not to declare the virus a public health emergency of international concern. Referencing the lockdown of Wuhan, which was announced the same day, he says he hopes ‘it will be effective and short in duration’. He praises China’s ‘cooperation and transparency’ in tackling the virus

Dr Tedros says there is limited evidence of human-to-human transmission, mostly among families or doctors treating the virus. At this point, there are 584 confirmed cases and 17 deaths globally, including in Vietnam, South Korea, Japan, Thailand and the US !   .. .. more than a month  after the first infections at the seafood market are thought to have taken place, the WHO tweeted saying China had found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission. 

Jan 28 – Dr Tedros and other senior WHO officials meet Xi Jinping in China, agreeing that a panel of experts should be sent to monitor the outbreak. He praises ‘the seriousness with which China is taking this outbreak, especially the commitment from top leadership and the transparency they have demonstrated’ and a day later,  Dr Tedros gives a speech praising China’s efforts to contain the virus, saying the country ‘deserves our gratitude and respect’ for locking down swathes of the country to prevent the spread.  Despite noting that a majority of cases outside China have a history of travel to or from Wuhan, he again recommends no measures to curb international travel or trade

On Jan 31 – Donald Trump announced travel restrictions on people coming from China.   Feb 3 – Dr Tedros gives a speech to the WHO updating on coronavirus, saying there are 17,238 cases in China and 361 deaths – now though to be an under-estimate.  He praises Xi Jinping for his individual leadership, and insists that cases outside China ‘can be managed’ if world authorities work together and follow recommendations which include – no ban on travel or trade, supporting countries with weak health systems, investment in vaccines and diagnosis, combating disinformation and urgent reviews of emergency preparedness.

Feb 7 – Dr Li Wenliang, a doctor who first reported the existence of coronavirus and was initially silenced by China, dies from the virus

Feb 11 – The WHO names the disease caused by the virus COVID-19, saying it avoided including a geographical name because it risks ‘stigmatizing’ people. It says it will not be using the name SARS-CoV-2 because it risks causing ‘unnecessary fear’ by linking it to the 2003 SARS outbreak

Feb 17 – Dr Tedros begins chairing daily updates on the coronavirus response, with each briefing beginning with an update on the number of infections including from China, which are repeated without caveats.  He give an analysis of Chinese data on some 44,000 confirmed cases. He says the data shows that 80 per cent of cases are mild, 14 per cent lead to severe disease, and 2 per cent are fatal. The disease is more severe in older people, with the young largely spared.

Feb 26 – Donald Trump announces a dedicated coronavirus response team, which Mike Pence will lead  .. .. … Feb 28 – The team of WHO experts delivers its first report on the coronavirus. Among its major findings are that the disease likely came from bats, that it is spread through close contact with infected people and not through the air, and that most common symptoms include fever, dry cough and fatigue.  The report praises China’s response as ‘perhaps the most ambitious, agile and aggressive disease containment effort in history’ saying lockdowns were achieved ‘due to the deep commitment of the Chinese people to collective action’ and had achieved a rapid decline in cases.

Mar 9 - The whole of Italy is placed on lockdown as the virus spreads, the first European nation to enter total lockdown.

Mar 11 - The WHO declares coronavirus a pandemic, meaning it is spreading out of control in multiple locations around the world. At this point, cases have been reported in more than 100 countries.

Mar 25 - As Donald Trump begins touting hydroxychloroquine as a potential coronavirus treatment, WHO warns that no drugs have so far been approved for treating the virus and on the same day the organization calls for an extra $2billion in funding to help tackle the virus

Apr 6 - The WHO updates its guidance on masks to say they are effective at stopping spread of the virus, but must be used in conjunction with other methods. Apr 8 - Following Trump's first barrage of criticism for the WHO, Dr Tedros urges world leaders to 'stop politicising the pandemic' unless they want 'more body bags'

A clearly outraged US President Donald Trump announced Tuesday he is halting funding to the World Health Organization while a review is conducted. Trump said the review would cover the WHO's "role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of coronavirus."  The US funds $400 million to $500 million to the WHO each year, Trump said, noting that China "contributes roughly $40 million." "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 said.

His decision to withdraw funding from the WHO follows a pattern of skepticism of world organizations that began well before the coronavirus pandemic. Trump has questioned US funding to the United Nations, withdrawn from global climate agreements and lambasted the World Trade Organization -- claiming all were ripping off the United States. Trump said Tuesday if the WHO had acted appropriately, he could have instituted a travel ban on people coming from China sooner. He said the WHO made a "dangerous and costly" decision to oppose travel restrictions from China.  Later Tuesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo echoed Trump's criticism of the WHO, but did not specifically react to the announcement that the US would withhold funds from the global body.

"We need answers to these questions, we need transparency and we need the World Health Organization to do its job, to perform its primary function, which is to make sure that the world has accurate, timely, effective, real information about what's going on in the global health space, and they didn't get that done here," Pompeo said in an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity.

Tuesday's announcement about the halting of funding came days after a major US ally -- the United Kingdom -- announced an additional £65 million contribution to the WHO.  The move to freeze the funding is the latest in a series of administration actions against international multilateral organizations. Prior to the pandemic, the administration's fiscal year 2021 proposal laid out a $65 million cut to the World Health Organisation.

A few years ago, the WHO, under the then-director general, Margaret Chan, was savaged from all sides for responding so slowly to an Ebola outbreak that began in a remote forested part of Guinea where the borders with Sierra Leone and Liberia were virtually non-existent. By the time the WHO acted, six months late, it had reached the dense cities.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
15.4.2020
The timeline of WHO reaction to Covid entirely from MailOnline.

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