We are told that, in a world of multiplying health emergencies, it has become necessary to give up some independence in return for safety. It is a tribute to those backing this agenda through the World Health Organization (WHO) that this message continues to gain credence. If humans are important, then we should also understand their flaws, and decide whether they matter.
Early WHO funding was dominated by ‘assessed’ contributions from countries, based on national income, and WHO decided how to use this core funding to achieve greatest impact. Now, WHO funding is mainly ‘specified," meaning that the funder may decide how and where the work will be done. WHO has become a conduit through which a funder can implement programs from which they stand to benefit. These funders are increasingly private entities; the second largest funder of WHO is the foundation of a software entrepreneur and Pharma investor.
In ceding power to WHO, a state will be ceding power to the funders of WHO. They can then profit by imposing the increasingly centralized and commodity-based approach that WHO is taking.
WHO rightly represents all countries. This means that member states run by military dictatorships or other non-democratic regimes have an equal say at the World Health Assembly (WHA), WHO’s governing body.
In ceding power to WHO, democratic States are therefore sharing decision-making power over the health of their own citizens with these non-democratic states, some of whom will have geopolitical reasons to restrict a democratic state’s people and harming its economy. While equal say in policy may be appropriate for a purely advisory organization, ceding actual power over citizens to such an organization is obviously incompatible with democracy.
Democratic states have systems through which those allowed to wield power over citizens wield it only at the citizens’ will, and are subject to independent courts for malfeasance or gross and harmful incompetence. This is necessary to address the corruption that always arises, as institutions are run by humans. Like other branches of the United Nations, WHO is answerable to itself and the geo-politics of the WHA. Even the UN secretariat has limited influence as WHO operates under its own constitution.
No one will be held accountable for the nearly quarter million children that UNICEF estimates were killed by policies that WHO promoted in South Asia. None of the up to 10 million girls forced into child marriage by WHO Covid policies will have any path for redress. Such lack of accountability may be acceptable if an institution is simply giving advice, but it is completely unacceptable for any institution that has powers to restrict, mandate or even censor a country’s citizens.
Before the influx of private money, WHO’s focus was high burden endemic infectious disease, such as malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS. These are strongly associated with poverty, as are those arising from malnutrition and poor sanitation. Public health experience tells us that addressing such preventable or treatable diseases is the best way to lengthen lives and promote sustainable good health. They are most effectively addressed by people on the ground, with local knowledge of behavior, culture and disease epidemiology. This involves empowering communities to manage their own health. WHO once emphasized such decentralization, advocating for the strengthening of primary care. It was consistent with the fight against fascism and colonialism within which WHO arose.
Centralized approaches to health, in contrast, require communities and individuals to comply with dictates that ignore local heterogeneity and community priorities. Malaria is not an issue to Icelandic people, but it absolutely dwarfs Covid in Uganda. Both human rights and effective interventions require local knowledge and direction. WHO pushed mass Covid vaccination onto sub-Saharan Africa for nearly 2 years through their most expensive program to date, whilst knowing a large majority of the population were already immune, half were under 20 years, and deaths from each of malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDs absolutely dwarfed Covid-19 mortality.
WHO staff are rarely experts. Experience in the 2009 Swine flu and West African Ebola outbreaks demonstrated that. Many have spent decades sitting in an office with minimal experience in program implementation or practical disease management. Country quotas and the nepotism associated with large international organizations mean that most countries will have far greater expertise within their borders than exists in a closeted bureaucracy in Geneva.
Pandemics due to respiratory viruses, as WHO pointed out in 2019, are rare events. They have occurred about once per generation over the past 120 years. Since the advent of antibiotics (for primary or secondary infections), mortality has dropped dramatically. An increase in mortality recorded during Covid-19 was complicated by definitions (‘with’ versus ‘of’), average age of death was over 75 years and death was unusual in healthy people. The global infection mortality rate was not greatly different to influenza. Tuberculosis, malaria, HIV/AIDS and most other common infections kill at a much younger age, imparting a greater burden in life years lost.
It makes no sense to grant a foreign-based, poorly unaccountable institution powers that contradict democratic norms and good public health policy. More so when this institution has limited expertise and a poor track record, is directed by private interests and those of authoritarian governments. This is obviously counter to what a government in a democracy is supposed to do.
This is not a matter of domestic political rivalries. However, the public relations departments of the prospective beneficiaries of this perpetual health emergency project would like us to believe it is. We are currently funding the dismantling of our own independence and ceding our human rights to a small group who stand to benefit from our impoverishment, financed from a war chest accrued through the pandemic just ended. We don’t have to. It is as straightforward to see through this as it should be to stop it. All that is needed is clarity, honesty and a little courage.
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