15 FEBRUARY 2010
|WHO'S UNDERCUTTING "WHO"?
The World Health Organization (WHO) is in the firing line for, in particular, its handling of the H1N1 flu outbreak. Some European politicians
sitting in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (this is Strasbourg, not the European Parliament in Brussels), have managed to get an
investigation on the conditions under which the WHO declared a pandemic, accusing (yes, accusing -- they have jumped to a foretold conviction), the
WHO of having acted in collusion with a Big Pharma eager to sell its vaccines.
The motion before the European Parliament reads:
"In order to promote their patented drugs and vaccines against flu, pharmaceutical companies have influenced scientists and official agencies,
responsible for public health standards, to alarm governments worldwide. They have made them squander tight health care resources for inefficient
vaccine strategies and needlessly exposed millions of healthy people to the risk of unknown side-effects of insufficiently tested vaccines. The
"bird-flu" campaign (2005/2006) combined with the "swine-flu" campaign seem to have caused a great deal of damage not only to some vaccinated
patients and to public health budget, but also to the credibility and accountability of important international health agencies. The definition of
an alarming pandemic must not be under the influence of drug sellers. The member states of the Council of Europe should ask for immediate investigations
on the consequences at national as well as European level. "
Though not specifically mentioned, the primary "culprit" for this state of affairs, as shown by a hearing that took place on 26 January 2010 was,
and still is, the WHO.
With the benefit of hindsight, anyone may question the wisdom of the WHO declaration that the H1N1 flu had turned into a pandemic, and also the
wisdom of the measures taken by some Governments (France, for instance, ordered enough doses to give two shots to some 80-90 percent of its
population at a time when nothing was yet know about the vaccine. But then, WHO experts do their best to alert the world of potential risks.
Precaution to prevent an epidemic is by far much better, and less expensive, than confronting the urgent need for treatment.
What is of concern, actually, is some sources within the U.N. were perceived to be attempting to undercut the management of WHO. Reportedly, a
U.N. source said the "WHO is the worst in terms of relations with the media. They are constantly derelict. We run after you constantly to get
information. In defence of the media, we don't have access to information." If reporting has been inaccurate, he said, this is "largely
attributable to the WHO's aloofness and even silence."
What's behind that attack? Questions were being asked particularly in Geneva. They were conveyed to us by Andre Heitz, a staff member of the
World Intellectual Property Organization, who has a long record of staff representation. He was the Secretary General of FICSA from 2000 to 2002.