WHO’s on first?
Costello: All I’m trying to find out is the fellow’s name on first base. Abbott: Who. Costello: The guy that gets the money. Abbott: That’s it. Costello: Who gets the money on first base? Abbott: He does, every dollar!
World Health Organization. Who would think there could be anything but honor and irrefutable truth coming from an organization with such a noble-sounding organization?
If you’ve been watching most news reports during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been quoted and referenced as an unassailable body with nothing but the best experts and best intentions. The more you know…
The World Health Organization was set up as a coordinating authority on international health within the United Nations. One can argue about the continued value and credibility of the UN, and many of those arguments would seem to apply to its offshoot, WHO.
On the one hand, having an organization that coordinates advances in medicine and technology from one country for the rest of the globe, or comes together to help “achieve better health for everyone, everywhere” seems like a great idea. From WHO’s website itself, “We help mothers and children survive and thrive so they can look forward to a healthy old age. We ensure the safety of the air people breathe, the food they eat, the water they drink – and the medicines and vaccines they need.”
Who could argue with such a noble charter? The answer is that not only could we, but we should.
WHO’s annual budget is somewhere around 4 billion dollars. The United States is the largest contributor to this organization, to the tune of more than half a billion per year, between “assessments” and “voluntary contributions.”
As I started to dig in on why giving WHO any credit whatsoever and seemingly holding them above skepticism during this disastrous global crisis didn’t feel right to me, I started with WHO’s very own website. I was trying to find what the original constitution for WHO was when it was first chartered in 1948 and compare it to the constitution for WHO today. It wasn’t easy to find. The version available on the WHO website calls out that this version is inclusive of all amendments made since 1948, but there’s not really a way to see what has changed, like a redline version. I did find this evaluation of the preamble to the constitution.
If you read the WHO website carefully, you will see phrases and statements that are almost exact versions of phrases and statements you have heard for years from US politicians and bureaucrats. If you look to Annex VII of the WHO constitution, you will see that Experts and officers serving on behalf of the WHO shall have privileges and immunities granted to them by all member states: immunity from personal arrest or seizure of personal baggage, b) immunity of legal process of every kind, even if they are no longer serving on committees of or employed by the organization, c) they are not bound by any local restrictions regarding currency or baggage, d) they have inviolability for all papers and documents – their documents cannot be seized or destroyed, nor can they be reviewed. They are granted complete secrecy, e) they have the right to use codes and to receive papers or correspondence by courier or in sealed bags.
Wow! An officer or member of a WHO committee could sure do a lot of unsavory business under the guise of their WHO status, couldn’t they? And, if what they are doing is to advance the causes of public health across borders for all citizens, then why in the world would they need to be so carefully protected by whatever it might be they are carrying on their person?
Maybe that’s all standard bureaucratic gobbledygook, you might say. Nothing to see here, don’t be an alarmist.
What if I told you that the current Director General of the WHO, Teros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, is the first person to hold that office who is not actually a medical doctor?
Dr. Tedros (he has a PhD in Philosophy) is a well-known “expert” in the field of immunology and infectious disease, and the first African to hold the post. Quoted directly from the WHO website: “Immediately after taking office on 1 July 2017, Dr Tedros outlined five key priorities for the Organization: universal health coverage; health emergencies; women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health; health impacts of climate and environmental change; and a transformed WHO.” Also, “All roads lead to universal health coverage for Dr Tedros.” Hmmm…..
The Daily Caller has had a series of editorials on Dr Tedros and WHO in recent days. Dr Tedros has, at best, some pretty ominous connections to China in light of China’s stonewalling and lying about the source of the virus and its spread, which if they’d cooperated earlier would have likely mitigated this spread and its devastating impact on the world markets. China backed Tedros in the election which granted him a five year term as Director General, which began in 2017.
As Ethiopia’s Minister of Health, it is alleged that Dr. Tedros participated in the coverup of at least three cholera epidemics. He has close ties to other human rights violators, such as Robert Mugabe (also an ally of China) and has consistently parroted China’s talking points during the COVID-19 outbreak, even when they have been proven demonstrably false.
OK, so this Tedros seems like he might be a bit unsavory. Maybe he’s an outlier. Who preceded him?
Why, that would be Dr. Margaret Chan. Dr Chan, prior to her election to Director General of WHO, served as Director of Health in Hong Kong. In that role, she achieved notoriety during the 1997 avian influenza (bird flu) outbreak and the 2003 SARA outbreaks.
During the bird flu outbreak, she thought it would reassure people to say things like “I eat chicken every day, don’t panic.” During SARS, the structure of the Hong Kong health care system under her direction was widely criticized for not sharing data between hospitals and public health officials. So why not then get yourself elected not once, not twice as Director General of WHO?
During her term as Director General, she distinguished herself by claiming that North Korea’s health system was great and that there were no signs of obesity in the country, unlike other parts of Asia where this was becoming a growing concern. (Perhaps because, oh I don’t know, maybe the people there were being starved to death by a despotic dictator?) She was also accused of ignoring a polio comeback in Syria in deference to its delightful President Bashar al-Assad, and under her direction, WHO also took heat for its slow response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.
Would you be interested to know that Chan is now a member of the Task Force on Fiscal Policy for Health, a group convened by none other than Michael Bloomberg and Lawrence Summers (remember him?)? Mr. Summers was Bill Clinton’s Treasury Secretary and former Director of the National Economic Council under President Obama. In between then, he was president of Harvard University, where he basically said that the reason why women weren’t equally represented in the science and engineering workforce was because they just weren’t as good at advanced math as men.
In its lifespan, the World Health Organization, despite the US being its single largest contributor, has never once elected an American as its Director General. Despite the excellent work the organization has done with vaccine research and other, targeted projects it has taken on in Africa, it’s hard to point to a single game-changing tactic that has impacted global health for the better.
WHO is an unaccountable, bloated, corrupt bureaucracy that has protected the most egregious human rights violators while professing moral superiority over every other individual country’s public health efforts, particularly the United States. It’s time we stopped supporting them, stopped deferring to them, and stopped listening to them.