Thursday, April 07, 2005


World Health Organization - worse than Oil-for-Food?

James K. Glassman, writing in the New Hampshire Union Leader, raises some intriguing questions about the U.N.-operated World Health Organization, suggesting that the world’s poor, and especially those in Africa, are being victimized by its agenda.

With AIDS, the WHO got a black eye for placing 18 Indian-made rip-off medicines on its list of approved drugs. Those medicines turned out to be uncertified copies of the patented HIV drugs from which they were copied.

With malaria, the WHO has refused to encourage the use of DDT and other proven insecticides and has engaged in what a group of scientists, writing in The Lancet, called “medical malpractice” in its use of a poor regime of anti-malarial drugs.

While the U.N. was foisting off what turned out to be untested counterfeit AIDS drugs on Africa, it was criticizing the Bush administration for insisting that the U.S. would pay only for drugs specifically approved by the FDA. This outrageous insistence on name-brand American drugs, rather than cheaper, generic copies from other countries, was argued to be evidence of some discriminatory intent on the part of the U.S., evidence of the on-going refusal of the U.S. to whole-heartedly support the “war on AIDS” in Africa, despite the fact that AIDS spending by the U.S. in Africa has increased dramatically since 2000.

And as for malaria, the environmentalists can scream all day long, but the fact is that no scientific evidence, anywhere, ever, has linked DDT to the death of anything but insects, and particularly mosquitoes by the millions. All that stuff about DDT entering the food chain and causing thin-shelled Bald Eagle eggs, thereby reducing the population of eagles, was nothing more than speculation. An anti-chemical EPA chief seized upon the popularity of the ecology tome “Silent Spring” and got DDT banned in the U.S. without any scientific evidence. Just media-driven hysterics.

Those of you who are interested in what science DOES NOT in fact establish should check out Steve Milloy’s
Junk Science. You may find it a real eye-opener.

And for those of you who believe "science" is always true, do you remember the “saccharin causes cancer” episode? The artificial sweetener was virtually driven off the market when some " scientists" announced that it caused cancer in mice. Only later did cooler heads prevail, demonstrating that the original study had been so severely flawed as to be useless, and that saccharin had no discernible link to cancer whatsoever. Those little pink sweetener packets in restaurants are saccharin. And they don’t cause cancer.

Glassman, pointing to the AIDS drugs and malaria policy as two examples, argues that

A U.N. agency that was set up in 1948, the WHO, more and more, has come under the influence of radical health and environmental activists who push a bitterly anti-enterprise ideology.

And now, having failed to effectively address either malaria or AIDS, which directly cause tens of thousands of deaths in the world’s poor countries annually, despite the expenditure of tens of millions of dollars, the WHO is turning its attention to that great and deadly scourge, baby formula!

In January, the WHO recommended the adoption of an extreme anti-bottle-feeding resolution at the 57th World Health Assembly — the WHO’s annual meeting, set for mid-May in Geneva. The immediate objective of the resolution is to force infant-formula packages to carry warning labels akin to those on cigarettes or liquor. The ultimate goal is to scare mothers into abandoning bottle-feeding.

There’s a deep irony here. The WHO wants to discourage the use of baby formula, whose efficacy and safety have been established over many decades — while at the same time, the WHO has been approving untested anti-AIDS drugs.

While breast-feeding infants may be preferable, there is certainly no scientific reason to believe that bottle-feeding represents any danger to anyone, least of all the infant. Rather, this policy is clearly an ideological agenda being pushed by an organization which is supposed to be concerned with improving the health of the world’s poor. It’s a little difficult to see how this can become a priority in any sort of medically or health-driven scheme of things.

But then, that’s Glassman’s point: the decisions at the WHO aren’t being made based on sound medicine or science. The decision-making is being driven by extremists with a political agenda.

A few years back, the WHO completed a lengthy (several years) study of the effects of second-hand smoke. What they found was…nothing. No link between second-hand smoke and cancer. Or asthma. Or bronchitis, or sinusitis. Or low birth weight, or the price of tea in China. Nothing. So what did they do? Well, they announced that even though their study found no such links, such links must exist because the old EPA study found them. Then they quickly buried the scientific evidence that didn’t match their preconceived conclusion.

Unfortunately, it isn’t scientific evidence that’s being buried as a result of their stubborn ideological insistence on their preconceived conclusions about AIDS and malaria.

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