Trump and the WHO

 

Sir, – It is no surprise that the very stable genius occupying the White House failed to heed the warnings of the World Health Organisation about Covid-19 (“World leaders condemn Trump decision to halt WHO funding”, News, April 15th).

If you habitually don’t listen, you are unlikely to hear warnings. Nor is there anything unexpected in his efforts to now blame them for this, his latest major failure, and its leading to him withdraw US federal funding of the WHO.

What is astonishing in this story is how small that funding is. Although it is the largest contributor, the US provides less than $500 million per year to the WHO.

The national debt of the US rises by about that much every four hours. Indeed the Irish health budget for 10 days exceeds the total contribution. It is rare to be able to say in the area of healthcare, but this seems like incredibly good value.

That the president cannot spot a good deal is no surprise. – Yours, etc,

BRIAN O’BRIEN,

Kinsale,

Co Cork.

Sir, – Contrary to your editorial (April 16th), the World Health Organisation’s kowtowing to China clearly rises to the offence of “severely mismanaging and covering up” the coronavirus pandemic.

The Wuhan outbreak was identified by the Chinese authorities in the first half of December 2019 but hushed up. Doctors who spoke of it were arrested for rumour-mongering.

On New Year’s Eve, Taiwan sent an alert to the WHO, which took no action other than to ask China for advice. China denied human-to-human transmission.

In mid-January, as the pandemic erupted, the city of Wuhan was allowed to host a mass banquet for tens of thousands, ensuring worldwide spread of the disease.

Even as China rebuffed President Trump’s offer of expert assistance from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and refused to allow a WHO team to visit Wuhan, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director general, lauded China for its openness and co-operation.

The joint WHO-China team eventually allowed access had a majority of Chinese members, who supervised its report, removing such terms as “dangerous pathogen” which they considered prejudicial.

The WHO’s priority throughout has not been global health, but staying close to an undemocratic, one-party state.

The intimidation of the Chinese medical profession is no surprise but the suborning of the WHO is a shock. – Yours, etc,

Dr JOHN DOHERTY,

Gaoth Dobhair,

Co Dhún na nGall.

Sir, – World Health Organisation director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus appointed Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe, then a sprightly 93, as a WHO “goodwill ambassador” in 2017, only rescinding the appointment after concerted international pressure from many quarters but not, oddly enough, from Beijing. – Yours, etc,

LM BYRNE,

Bray,

Co Wicklow.

Sir, – Given that Taiwan was shut out of the World Health Organisation, at Chinese insistence, when it was sounding the alarm at an early stage about Covid-19, perhaps countries should now take the logical step and recognise Taiwan for what it is, an independent country separate from China. – Yours, etc,

PAUL WILLIAMS,

Kilkee, Co Clare.