California Dem Ro Khanna explains why he thinks defunding WHO is the wrong move

California Dem Ro Khanna explains why he thinks defunding WHO is the wrong move

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President Trump announced Tuesday he would halt funding to the World Health Organization after Taiwain raised alarms that it alerted WHO to the coronavirus pandemic but didn’t receive adequate guidance after — but Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., says that pulling funds to the organization may only allow China to negatively influence them further.

“There’s no question that China hasn’t been transparent about this pandemic and we need to hold China accountable for lack of transparency and we need to establish international norms so that that kind of irresponsible behavior doesn’t happen again,” Khanna said during a phone call with reporters on Tuesday.


Still, the congressman said WHO — a UN agency which receives the bulk of its funding from U.S taxpayers’ dollars — needs to be reformed to reinforce the organization’s leadership and transparency.

“The answer to that is not to defund WHO, the World Health Organization, and allow that international institution to become more dependent on the influence of China and other nations. The answer is to fund it but to shape the World Health Organization in a way that’s consistent with American realities and the values of liberal democracies,” he said.

Taiwan released emails over the weekend bolstering accusations that WHO attempted to downplay the severity and spread of the coronavirus from Wuhan in an attempt to pander to China, even after Taiwan sounded the alarm about at least seven cases of atypical pneumonia that they were aware of in Wuhan, where the virus originated.

WHO’s chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has accused the U.S. of “politicizing” its handling of the virus and said that doing so would result in “more body bags.”

Khanna said the U.S. should ensure that WHO has “strong leadership there and have a leadership that can make the WHO advance with causes consistent with our values.”


In February Trump proposed making $3 billion in cuts to global health organizations and slashing funding to WHO by nearly half, an attempt that was quickly shot down by Democratic lawmakers at the very start of the coronavirus pandemic.

WHO has been leading the international response to the virus, which has killed 124,544 people worldwide and infected nearly 2 million more.

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