• Raajveer Singh Bisht

Selfishness and Idiocy with a Side Order of Pestilence

As everybody buzzes about how Trump’s move to cut funding to the WHO is a bad move, we see that the focus shifts onto the defence of the WHO, China, criticising the Trump administration and the USA’s trend of pulling out of UN bodies. What everyone seems to forget is what the WHO does and just how many suffer.

How Reliant is the WHO on US Funding?

The short-term answer is, very. For a detailed breakdown of the finances you can easily look it up at the WHO site. A detail that we seem to forget however is also just how badly the WHO lacked funding before this US pull out.

Former Director-General Margaret Chang in her last few months in office scrambled to secure funding for the WHO all the way back in 2016 and even published an independent report regarding the sorry state of WHO funds.

Even with funding from the US the WHO with all the tasks that it undertakes finds itself grasping for support, both in times of crisis and otherwise.

How Reliant are we on the WHO?

Again, the answer is, very. The WHO isn’t just a medical body, it’s the foremost intergovernmental body in the world when it comes to projects regarding sanitisation, infrastructure development, medical research, healthcare system revamping and combating climate change.

In such a manner all of the world is reliant on the WHO even more prosperous nations such as Italy where it is helping right now and before the epidemic conducted disease preparedness inspections and released reports, thus making them responsible for the fight that the Italian healthcare system was able to put up, without the WHO the current count would have been worse.

Even the United States relied on the WHO during the universal healthcare roll-out and the WHO has helped local authorities time and again in conducting research, analysis and preparing assessments regarding diseases such as Hepatitis A. The WHO has been a partner in many of the President’s plans regarding HIV/AIDS prevention and funding of bodies and organisations for the same.

A World Without the WHO:

Imagine now for me, if you will a future wherein the WHO falls into inaction, a combination of loss of political support and lack of financial assistance pushing the body into an early grave. The damage would be worldwide, developing nations would be without any advisors regarding infrastructure development, workers would lose the largest voice for unionised healthcare, the numbers of those who die each day in misery, lacking dignity, all for the want of proper healthcare would swell and rise, pestilence would reign as a lack of international cooperation grounds to a halt, research, healthcare efforts and sanitation projects all over the world.

Herein I would like to introduce to you the:

Problem of the Commons

The Commons were public grazing land wherein people of the villages brought their cattle out to graze. The system worked so long as people used it occasionally and with restraint, however, once someone started to hoard the Commons it quickly led to economical disaster as supply dwindled and people rushed to occupy more and more of the commons.

So now imagine a world without an intergovernmental body like the WHO promoting cooperation between nations. In this case when a pestilence strikes nations hoard medical supplies, restrict flow of essential goods and follow protectionist policies, without a body like the WHO nations lack trust, lack a transparent platform to cooperate upon and thus research is slower and developing countries are harder hit as more prosperous nations restrict the flow of medicine, food and other essentials.

But as time moves on even those nations who hoarded supplies find themselves hard pressed because international trade has collapsed, the flow of goods has been stopped and production has halted which otherwise would have been countered by international cooperation. Nobody emerges as a victor in this, long term and short term effects deal a heavy blow to all.

In this situation we see how human greed, selfishness and bias leads to harm for all irrespective of whether they engaged in said greed, selfishness and bias. It is therefore paramount to understand the importance of international bodies such as the WHO and to encourage our national leaders to cooperate with these bodies especially as we see misinformation, stereotypes and suspicions grip nations and fill them with hatred and distrust.

This cannot be afforded, not now, not ever.

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