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International policy, health experts concerned over WHO policies

June 20, 2023 People's Journal 1427 views

INTERNATIONAL policy and public health experts expressed alarm over World Health Organization’s (WHO) controversial policy-making decisions that ignore science.
Dr. Rafael Castillo, a renowned Filipino cardiologist said an article published in The Washington Times titled “World Health Organization has gone rogue, should no longer be considered credible” had exposed the underlining instances where the organization’s credibility and decision-making processes came into question.

“The public relies on the WHO to provide accurate information and guidance in times of crisis. It is clear however that in several instances, the WHO’s decisions seem to be influenced by political considerations rather than evidence-based science. It raises serious doubts over their impartiality and even their ability to safeguard public health,” said Castillo, who once served as president of the Philippine Heart Association-Philippine College of Cardiology.

He said while the WHO should focus on its core mission of improving global health, the organization has instead “unfortunately chosen to associate with governments accused of human rights violations or undemocratic practices.”

“It is important that the WHO operates independently and prioritizes public health over any external pressure. They need to assess their priorities to address global health threats promptly, rather than associating with dubious personalities and diverting their attention to peripheral matters,” he said.

Martin Cullip, an international fellow at the Taxpayers Protection Alliance’s Consumer Center in London detailed in his article on The Washington Times several of the WHO’s decisions over the years which has raised eyebrows among experts both local and international.

Notably, the organization is reportedly setting up a meeting in November to treat vaping and other reduced risk products, which are helping millions of people who smoke to quit, the same as lethal combustible tobacco. According to the Times article, this is “on the basis of junk science and misinformation.”

The WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) is a global treaty governed by the Conference of Parties composed of representatives from all countries signatory to the agreement.

It will be having its 10th biennial meeting in November this year to discuss the progress of the treaty’s implementation and policy recommendations.

“For a global health organization that must necessarily negotiate political realities, it is surprising that the WHO appears to have no political antenna and supports some of the worst governments in the world while peddling policies contrary to public health,” it said.

Cullip in his article noted that last month, the WHO praised the Ukrainian government for not letting a war divert it from banning flavored vaping liquids. “This is reminiscent of 2016 when the WHO urged officials in Islamic State-ravaged Syria to implement plain packaging of cigarettes notwithstanding the current crisis in the country,” he wrote.

The article also criticized the WHO’s mishandling of the COVID-19 outbreak for being slow to acknowledge community transmission and focusing on unrelated issues like vaping. It also noted WHO’s misplaced priorities in addressing deadly global diseases over the years, such as prioritizing e-cigarette bans over addressing the Ebola outbreak.

Other highly contentious actions of the WHO include allegedly favoring the Chinese government, the election of North Korea to the WHO’s executive board, the WHO’s director-general meeting with Russia’s deputy Health Minister despite Russia’s alleged human rights abuses in Ukraine and installing Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe as goodwill ambassador.