President Donald Trump announced Wednesday he is cutting funding to the World Health Organization. Medical ethicist Arthur Caplan told Boston Public Radio on Wednesday that while the WHO is a small organization with "the budget of, like, one Boston hospital," and is often beholden to the politics of whatever country is funding them, it's the only organization out there that monitors global health data.
"Taking them offline in the middle of a world pandemic, it's not dangerous, it's boneheaded stupid," Caplan said. "It's like saying, 'I'm not happy with the fire department's training exercise, I see the forest fire coming towards my house — I guess I'll say, Let's fire them.'"
The United States is the largest funder of the WHO, according to the organization's website. Caplan said that lack of funding could impact the organization's ability to monitor cases of COVID-19 in developing countries, or other nations unable or unwilling to publish data themselves.
"(Remote and developing countries are) the incubators of the next round of the virus. If you don't watch what's happening there, even if we get it tamped down here, it could come back with a roar from there. WHO is it, literally it," he said.
Arthur Caplan is the Drs. William F. and Virginia Connolly Mitty Chair, and the director of the division of medical ethics at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine.