The WHO needs to be Investigated | Citizens Against Government Waste

The WHO needs to be Investigated

The WasteWatcher

On Tuesday, April 15, President Trump instructed his administration to withhold funding for the World Health Organization (WHO) while a review is undertaken to determine the organization’s role in mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus.  A thorough examination of the WHO is long overdue.

WHO was created in 1948 as the specialized agency for health at the United Nations (UN).  Since its inception, WHO’s mission has been to help all people obtain the highest possible level of health and is funded through contributions from UN member states.  The United States has always been a generous contributor to WHO.  In 2019, the U.S. provided WHO an estimated $419 million of assessed and voluntary contributions, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.  In 2019, U.S. contributions were approximately 20 percent of WHO's budget.

Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) has pointed out problems at the WHO for more than a decade.  In 2006, CAGW released a “Through the Looking Glass” special report, “WHO: Taxpayers Won’t Get Fooled Again – An Expose on the World Health Organization.”  The report noted that while the UN health agency has had remarkable successes in its history, like the near elimination of smallpox by 1979, its numerous scandals and health failures, like with malaria and HIV, have tarnished its image.  The report expressed dismay with the WHO’s one-size-fits-all approach for medical policies, along with a greater concern for publicity and political correctness than health standards.  The report also noted that the WHO’s procedures were unduly influenced by non-governmental organizations with agendas that conflict with U.S.  policies.

CAGW has also been disturbed by the WHO’s irrational opposition to the use of electronic tobacco delivery systems (ENDS), or e-cigarettes, which have shown to be a useful harm reduction product and more effective than other smoking cessation products.  These concerns were expressed in a September 14, 2018 The Hill Op-ed that cited the WHO’s interference with other countries’ regulations concerning ENDS.  In a May 16, 2018 comment on the WHO’s Independent High-Level Commission’s on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) May 1, 2018, First Draft Report, CAGW asked why ENDS and other tobacco harm reduction products were not being considered as a way to fight NCDs, like cancer and respiratory diseases.

Because ENDS have been very successful in reducing smoking conventional cigarettes, which are known to cause death and serious illnesses, the British National Health Service advocates using them to quick smoking.  The country continues to take the lead in this area by encouraging their citizens to use the harm reduction products.  And top British doctors pushed back hard when WHO declared e-cigarettes unsafe in January 2020.

The WHO has not been quick to respond to deadly diseases.  It had a slow and disastrous response to the Ebola epidemic, taking five months to declare it a public health emergency.  Authors of a November 2015 report published in Lancet stated, “When preventive measures do not succeed, outbreaks can cross borders and surpass national capacities.  Ebola exposed WHO as unable to meet its responsibility for responding to such situations and alerting the global community.”

The April 15 Wall Street Journal editorial, “A Reckoning for the WHO,” declared that the president’s “funding pause may finally get the UN agency’s attention” and said the president “isn’t exaggerating” when he claimed the agency “failed in its basic duty and must be held accountable” for the thousands of lives that would have been saved as well as preventing a world-wide economic damage if it had done its job.  The editorial board added, “From the start of the crisis, WHO leadership let political considerations color what should have been unbiased public-health advice.  The decisions to oppose early travel bans and to delay declaring a ‘public-health emergency of international concern’ were particularly deadly.  Instead of demanding more transparency from Beijing – which has provided dubious data and punished domestic truth-tellers – WHO officials echoed Chinese claims.”

This rhetoric is clearly directed toward current WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who was elected in 2017, the first non-physician to head the UN healthcare agency.  The editorial board wrote, “The world needs a competent global institution to provide untainted public-health advice and coordinate responses to international disease outbreaks.  But the WHO has become less focused on its original mission in recent decades, as it wastes money promoting government-run health care and attacking tobacco companies.”  The Journal called for the director general’s resignation in exchange for U.S. financial support.

The Journal editorial resonates with the March 22 Daily Caller article, which said that that Tedros won his election with China’s help, helping to explain why Tedros has praised China’s transparency, even though the “communist regime covered and then concealed the severity of the outbreak.”  Reuters reported on February 3, three days after President Trump shut down travel to China, that Tedros felt there was no need to enact measures that  “unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade” to stop the virus that had already killed 361 people in China.   

An AP April 15 report backs up other information that China delayed warning the public by six days while a huge banquet was hosted for tens of thousands of people by the city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus as millions of Lunar New Year travelers passed through the area.  This led to thousands of infected people transmitting the virus across the world, infecting more than 2 million people and causing more than 133,000 deaths.  The communist government’s dereliction of not reporting what was happening early and accurately lead to other world leaders, including President Trump, to hold back a response to the virus.

Clearly, there needs to be a thorough investigation into the role the WHO and Director General Tedros played, if any, in delaying action to prevent the spread of the virus while assisting China in hiding the consequences.  The organization’s other problems should also be examined, including undue influence from non-governmental organizations and individual countries, whether it has strayed too far from its original mission, and what its role should be today.  There should be a report with recommendations for reforms of the WHO or whether another entity should take its place.  Withholding U.S. taxpayer funding for several months is a small price to pay for a much-needed review of the WHO

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