Posts Tagged ‘WHO’

Globalism fail: A global pandemic is having to be handled nation by nation

April 20, 2020

“Globalism” is meaningless sanctimony without nations first taking care of themselves. In this Covid-19 crisis, there is no “globalised” solution and every nation is having to find its own way of handling the problem. There is a great deal of bilateral and even international cooperation, but every nation is then taking its own decisions for its own people. To be truly international, nations must first take care of themselves.

I have been waiting for the UN Security Council to pass a resolution banning the coronavirus. However such a resolution might well attract a veto from China.

The WHO preferred not to listen to warnings from Taiwan because they follow the Chinese line that Taiwan does not exist.

FT: The criticism by the World Medical Association … accusing it of “severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus”. The WMA said the WHO’s failure to heed Taiwan’s early warnings resulted in “errors that led to the world paying a high price” in the 2003 Sars outbreak and the coronavirus pandemic. …. Taiwan has accused the WHO of dismissing its early efforts to raise the red flag that the virus might spread among humans because of the organisation’s pro-China bias. It has been excluded from having “observer status” at the UN body’s annual meeting of decision makers since 2018. 

Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, was among those to call for an investigation into the WHO once the pandemic was under control. ….. Health officials in Taiwan said they alerted the WHO in late December about the risk of human-to-human transmission of the new virus but said its concerns were not passed on to other countries.

The EU is another organisation which promotes the “globalist” religion (provided the EU is first among equals). The reality is that the EU cannot take care of any member state which cannot take care of itself. The EU has proved itself impotent in time of crisis.

Forbes: Mauro Ferrari, head of the European Union’s top scientific research body, … resigned on Tuesday, effective immediately, citing a “political thunderstorm” in the European Commission in response to his plans to address the pandemic. ….. “I moved that the European Research Council should establish a special program directed at combating COVID-19,” he wrote, but that the plan was outright rejected by the European Commission, ……..
Ferrari said, in a two-page statement, printed in the Financial Times: “I have been extremely disappointed by the European response to COVID-19, for what pertains to the complete absence of coordination of health care policies among member states, the recurrent opposition to cohesive financial support initiatives, the pervasive one-sided border closures, and the marginal scale of synergistic scientific initiatives.”

However, the EU did express solidarity with Italy and Spain but had to apologise for being incapable of providing any help.

Guardian: ….. when Italy pleaded for fellow countries to send it medical equipment such as masks, France and Germany not only failed to respond, they placed export bans (since lifted) on the export of the kit Italian hospitals were crying out for. 

 ….. Another problem for Italy is that ….. it has to pay a higher rate of interest on the money the government borrows than is the case for Germany and, when the hospitals in the cities of Lombardy started to fill up with Covid-19 cases, this gap – or spread – started to widen. It was therefore deeply unhelpful for Christine Lagarde, the president of the ECB, to say that it was not the job of her institution to “close bond spreads”. …….. Last week’s virtual meeting of EU leaders was supposed to come up with a joint approach to the crisis but was instead a complete car crash.

Italy’s prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, said at the weekend: “If Europe does not rise to this unprecedented challenge, the whole European structure loses its raison d’être to the people. We are at a critical point in European history.”

The “Marshall plan” for the EU has been under discussion for over a month but the Commission cannot take their hands out of their pockets for fear of the virus.

Freedom of travel has been suspended in the EU. The EU regulations for reimbursements from airlines for cancelled flights are largely being ignored by EU member countries and their hard-hit airlines.

Of course, following Brexit, the EU has little sympathy to share with the UK.

India and other SE Asian countries have learnt to be very selective in listening to the WHO.


 

India has learnt not to rely on the WHO

April 10, 2020

The WHO leadership is complicit in the suppression of news about the coronavirus. Its guilt will be judged by history. It was warned by Taiwan in December but could not pay attention to anything that might upset China. But it is not always wise even with its advice.

India has learnt over the years to sidestep the WHO when necessary.

So far India has reported just over 7,000 cases with 229 deaths attributed to covid-19 (10th April, 2020). With a population of over 1.3 billion the fatality rate at present is 0.18 per million of population. It is very early days to be sure but, so far, the fatality rate is long from what was, and still is, feared.

As the Indian Express reports:

… when it comes to key aspects of COVID management, the government has politely sidestepped the periodic “advice” from the WHO and, instead, leaned on the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the experience of several state governments — from Kerala and Uttar Pradesh to Rajasthan and Maharashtra. …

Most recently, on April 3, the government’s advisory on the use of masks while stepping out of the house was at variance with that of the WHO, which said this should be only for those who are symptomatic, health workers, or caregivers to COVID patients.

That’s not the only point where the government veered off the WHO track.

  • On January 30, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that WHO did not recommend travel restrictions to China — in fact, it was opposed to such an idea. This despite the fact that the same day, the WHO’s International Health Regulations Emergency Committee raised a global alert on the need for containment, surveillance, detection, isolation, and even contact tracing. By this time, India’s first advisory on avoiding non-essential travel to China dated January 25, was already in place.
  • Three days after the WHO statement, India advised citizens to refrain from travel to China, a step up from its earlier advisory.
  • On March 16, Ghebreyesus said that the WHO’s key message is “test test test”. On March 22, ICMR head Dr Balram Bhargava said: “There will be no indiscriminate testing. Isolation, Isolation, isolation.”
  • Hours later, India went into lockdown, starting with 75 districts and then, from midnight of March 24, the whole country. The decision was based on a paper by ICMR that quarantine is a more effective way of containing the virus than even airport screening.
  • The day after the lockdown began, WHO executive director Mike Ryan said: “Without implementing the necessary measures, without putting in place those protections, it’s going to be very difficult for the country to exit (the lockdown). And when they do, they have a resurgence and I think that’s the challenge now.”
  • WHO’s clinical care guidelines clearly lay down that there is “no current evidence to recommend any specific anti-COVID-19 treatment for patients”. India, nevertheless, first included two of its undertrial antivirals — lopinavir and ritonavir — in its clinical care guidelines for patients of the novel coronavirus disease, and then revised the management guidelines to replace the antivirals with a combination of hydroxychloroquine and the antibiotic azithromycin.

All the coronavirus solutions are going to be national, not global, solutions and I am quite sure that countries with effective measures will quickly inform other countries directly. They will not rely on a pampered and ineffective WHO leadership to do that.

Mumbai lockdown 9th April 2020

India has removed the ban on exports of hydroxylchloroquine to selected countries on humanitarian grounds and has sent supplies to, at least, USA, Israel, Brazil, Sri Lanka and a few others.


 

Whether for Haiti cholera, Ebola or the coronavirus, the WHO leadership failed

April 9, 2020

The WHO has many skilled, dedicated and hard working staff.

But the WHO leadership and the organisation are not fit for purpose.

After the Haiti earthquake it was poorly screened UN troops who took cholera into Haiti in 2010. But the UN and the WHO leadership were more concerned with appearing politically correct and with CYA than anything else.

NY Times (Dec 2016):

After six years and 10,000 deaths, the United Nations issued a carefully worded public apology on Thursday for its role in the 2010 cholera outbreak in Haiti and the widespread suffering it has caused since then.

The mea culpa, which Secretary General Ban Ki-moon delivered before the General Assembly, avoided any mention of who brought cholera to Haiti, even though the disease was not present in the country until United Nations peacekeepers arrived from Nepal, where an outbreak was underway. ……

One of the reasons the disease spread so widely, public health experts have said, is because it was allowed to; had there been a vigorous response in the first couple of years, it would have been far easier to contain, and fewer people would have died. The death toll stands at an estimated 10,000; some say it could be higher. ………

The WHO knew about the outbreak and the causes but was incapable of taking any actions which might have political implications.

The WHO was even worse with their “egregious failure” after the Ebola outbreak of 2013.

Reuters (Nov 2015):

The World Health Organization’s failure to sound the alarm until months into West Africa’s Ebola outbreak was an “egregious failure” which added to the enormous suffering and death toll, ……

The Ebola epidemic has killed at least 11,300 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia since it began in December 2013. The crisis brought already weak health services to their knees and caused social and economic havoc.

“The most egregious failure was by WHO in the delay in sounding the alarm,” said Ashish K. Jha, HGHI’s director and a leading member of the panel. “People at WHO were aware that there was an Ebola outbreak that was getting out of control by spring, and yet it took until August to declare a public health emergency.” …..

And now with the coronavirus outbreak, the WHO leadership has failed again. Instead of preparing for a pandemic it has wasted time on the imaginary threats of climate change, on placating China and playing nice with celebrities.

There are three charges against WHO. First, it failed to prepare the world for a pandemic, spending the years since the Sars and ebola alarms talking more about climate change, obesity and tobacco, while others, including the Wellcome Trust and the Gates foundation, actually set up a coalition for epidemic preparedness innovation, and countries like Singapore and South Korea put in place measures to cope with an outbreak like SARS in the future.

Second, once the epidemic began in China, WHO downplayed its significance, tweeting as late as January 14 that “preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus”, when it had already been warned by the Taiwanese health authorities among others of strong evidence for medical staff in Wuhan becoming ill.

The Chinese government at this stage had known for weeks that the virus was spreading, probably person to person, yet WHO then sycophantically praised the Chinese government. “China is actually setting a new standard for outbreak response,” said WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, a former foreign minister of Ethiopia, a country run by a repressive regime heavily dependent on China. “China is really good at keeping people alive,” echoed the assistant director-general, Bruce Aylward, on 3 March.

On 29 March, a Hong Kong-based journalist asked Aylward to comment on Taiwan’s highly-successful efforts to defeat the virus. At first Aylward ignored the question, claiming not to have heard it. When the journalist offered to repeat it, strangely he said no, he would rather move on to another question. When she pressed, the call was mysteriously cut off. When the journalist called back and asked the question again, he answered a different question, talking about China, rather than Taiwan. The background here is that China is a big funder of WHO and insists that Taiwan be excluded from the organisation since it does not recognise Taiwan’s existence as a separate country. Taiwan banned travel from China very early in the pandemic.

The third charge against WHO is that it has failed before. When the ebola outbreak in West Africa that was to kill 11,000 people began in late 2013, on its own admission WHO hindered the fight against the virus, obsessed with not letting others find out what was happening. In April 2014, the charity Medecins Sans Frontieres announced that the outbreak was out of control. They were promptly slapped down by a WHO spokesman. Others tried again in June to alert WHO. It was not until August that WHO admitted the gravity of the situation.

Later WHO admitted its “initial response was slow and insufficient, we were not aggressive in alerting the world, our surge capacity was limited, we did not work effectively in coordination with other partners, there were shortcomings in risk communication.”

All of which is true again today.

The first case was in November 2019. By December the Chinese authorities knew but were suppressing the news. By end December Taiwan and others had warned the WHO about the outbreak. The pandemic was declared on 12th March 2020. The WHO will not live down this now infamous tweet on January 14th.

The Japanese Deputy Prime Minister recently suggested that the WHO change its name to the China Health Organisation.

The WHO suppresses information, and releases cherry-picked information, to suit what its leadership considers politically correct. Multilateral organisations such as the WHO (and even those of the UN and the EU) do not necessarily level up. They all too often sink to the lowest common level set by what is often compounded among the  worst members.

What is striking is that the global problem of the coronovirus has to find national – not globalised – solutions.


 

China WHO?

March 26, 2020

Maybe not politically correct to give the virus a nationality, ….

…… but China, aided and abetted by the WHO, certainly suppressed information which could have slowed its progress.

(original image from Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten)


 

Birth and the 116 other things which increase cancer risk

October 29, 2015

The good old WHO.

I suppose they do do some good, but they also make some horrible blunders as with the UN introduced cholera epidemic in Haiti, or with the initial downplaying of the Ebola outbreak in some African countries, or when their panel members take money from vaccine manufacturers to recommend mass flu vaccination programs. As with all UN organisations the staff are a mixture of professionals, surrounded by bureaucrats with political agendas from their home countries, and with some members from partisan lobby groups who promote their own causes and self-interests. WHO panels which recommend certain drugs or mass vaccination programs always seem to contain members with commercial ties to the pharmaceutical industry. Many in the WHO justify their alarmist tactics as a means to stimulate or trigger actions and – inevitably – many of these actions are totally unnecessary (but they are often very lucrative for some members of the WHO and their sponsors).

Now the WHO are going after processed and even red meat as causing cancer. But they have had to torture their data to calculate the risk. They forget that living is risk. Not being born, however, carries no risk of dying of anything. Therefore, the risk of cancer due to being born is far, far greater than that introduced by any other parameter or substance.  I won’t be changing my meat eating habits just yet.

Their list of 116 other things – besides birth – that increase the risk of cancer are taken from the Daily Mail.

1. Tobacco smoking

2. Sunlamps and sunbeds

3. Aluminium production

4. Arsenic in drinking water

5. Auramine production

6. Boot and shoe manufacture and repair

7. Chimney sweeping

8. Coal gasification

9. Coal tar distillation

10. Coke (fuel) production

11. Furniture and cabinet making

12. Haematite mining (underground) with exposure to radon

13. Secondhand smoke

14. Iron and steel founding

15. Isopropanol manufacture (strong-acid process)

16. Magenta dye manufacturing

17. Occupational exposure as a painter

18. Paving and roofing with coal-tar pitch

19. Rubber industry

20. Occupational exposure of strong inorganic acid mists containing sulphuric acid

21. Naturally occurring mixtures of aflatoxins (produced by funghi)

22. Alcoholic beverages

23. Areca nut – often chewed with betel leaf

24. Betel quid without tobacco

25. Betel quid with tobacco

26. Coal tar pitches

27. Coal tars

28. Indoor emissions from household combustion of coal

29. Diesel exhaust

30. Mineral oils, untreated and mildly treated

31. Phenacetin, a pain and fever reducing drug

32. Plants containing aristolochic acid (used in Chinese herbal medicine)

33. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) – widely used in electrical equipment in the past, banned in many countries in the 1970s

34. Chinese-style salted fish

35. Shale oils

36. Soots

37. Smokeless tobacco products

38. Wood dust

39. Processed meat

40. Acetaldehyde

41. 4-Aminobiphenyl

42. Aristolochic acids and plants containing them

43. Asbestos

44. Arsenic and arsenic compounds

45. Azathioprine

46. Benzene

47. Benzidine

48. Benzo[a]pyrene

49. Beryllium and beryllium compounds

50. Chlornapazine (N,N-Bis(2-chloroethyl)-2-naphthylamine)

51. Bis(chloromethyl)ether

52. Chloromethyl methyl ether

53. 1,3-Butadiene

54. 1,4-Butanediol dimethanesulfonate (Busulphan, Myleran)

55. Cadmium and cadmium compounds

56. Chlorambucil

57. Methyl-CCNU (1-(2-Chloroethyl)-3-(4-methylcyclohexyl)-1-nitrosourea; Semustine)

58. Chromium(VI) compounds

 59. Ciclosporin

60. Contraceptives, hormonal, combined forms (those containing both oestrogen and a progestogen)

61. Contraceptives, oral, sequential forms of hormonal contraception (a period of oestrogen-only followed by a period of both oestrogen and a progestogen)

62. Cyclophosphamide

63. Diethylstilboestrol

64. Dyes metabolized to benzidine

65. Epstein-Barr virus

66. Oestrogens, nonsteroidal

67. Oestrogens, steroidal

68. Oestrogen therapy, postmenopausal

69. Ethanol in alcoholic beverages

70. Erionite

71. Ethylene oxide

72. Etoposide alone and in combination with cisplatin and bleomycin

73. Formaldehyde

74. Gallium arsenide

75. Helicobacter pylori (infection with)

76. Hepatitis B virus (chronic infection with)

77. Hepatitis C virus (chronic infection with)

78. Herbal remedies containing plant species of the genus Aristolochia

79. Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (infection with)

80. Human papillomavirus type 16, 18, 31, 33, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 56, 58, 59 and 66

81. Human T-cell lymphotropic virus type-I

82. Melphalan

83. Methoxsalen (8-Methoxypsoralen) plus ultraviolet A-radiation

84. 4,4′-methylene-bis(2-chloroaniline) (MOCA)

85. MOPP and other combined chemotherapy including alkylating agents

86. Mustard gas (sulphur mustard)

87. 2-Naphthylamine

88. Neutron radiation

89. Nickel compounds

90. 4-(N-Nitrosomethylamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK)

91. N-Nitrosonornicotine (NNN)

92. Opisthorchis viverrini (infection with)

93. Outdoor air pollution

94. Particulate matter in outdoor air pollution

95. Phosphorus-32, as phosphate

96. Plutonium-239 and its decay products (may contain plutonium-240 and other isotopes), as aerosols

97. Radioiodines, short-lived isotopes, including iodine-131, from atomic reactor accidents and nuclear weapons detonation (exposure during childhood)

98. Radionuclides, α-particle-emitting, internally deposited

99. Radionuclides, β-particle-emitting, internally deposited

100. Radium-224 and its decay products

101. Radium-226 and its decay products

102. Radium-228 and its decay products

103. Radon-222 and its decay products

104. Schistosoma haematobium (infection with)

105. Silica, crystalline (inhaled in the form of quartz or cristobalite from occupational sources)

106. Solar radiation

107. Talc containing asbestiform fibres

108. Tamoxifen

109. 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-para-dioxin

110. Thiotepa (1,1′,1′-phosphinothioylidynetrisaziridine)

111. Thorium-232 and its decay products, administered intravenously as a colloidal dispersion of thorium-232 dioxide

112. Treosulfan

113. Ortho-toluidine

114. Vinyl chloride

115. Ultraviolet radiation

116. X-radiation and gamma radiation

From the Daily Mail.

 

WHO delayed Ebola emergency declaration by 2 months – for political expedience

March 20, 2015

In October last year it was revealed that the complacency of the WHO African country heads (mainly political appointees) and who “seem to have been unwilling to even acknowledge that there was a problem on their turfs” had caused avoidable delays.

Now the Associated Press reports (NY Times) that the WHO leadership delayed declaring an emergency by 2 months for reasons of political expediency; to avoid upsetting some African countries, to avoid economic damage and to avoid any interruption to the annual Haj pilgrimage to Mecca. The emergency was declared on August 8th 2014 but from emails obtained by AP, it should have been declared 2 months earlier. That probably means that about 1000 deaths might have been prevented. The death toll from the outbreak is now estimated to have reached over 10,000.

Ebola deaths in West Africa (Data: WHO / Chart CC BY 4.0: JV Chamary / Source: http://onforb.es/1sCVxE1)

The Hindu:

Among the reasons the United Nations agency cited in internal deliberations – worries that declaring such an emergency akin to an international SOS could anger the African countries involved, hurt their economies or interfere with the Muslim pilgrimage to Makkah. ….. 

In public comments, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan has repeatedly said the epidemic caught the world by surprise. ……

But internal documents obtained by AP show that senior directors at the health agency’s headquarters in Geneva were informed of how dire the situation was early on and held off on declaring a global emergency. Such an alert is meant to trigger a surge in outside help, or, as a WHO document put it, “ramps up political pressure in the countries affected” and “mobilizes foreign aid and action”.

When WHO experts discussed the possibility of an emergency declaration in early June, one director viewed it as a “last resort”.

The delay in declaring an emergency was one of many critical problems that hobbled the agency’s ability to contain the epidemic. When aid agency Doctors Without Borders warned Ebola was spiralling out of control, WHO contradicted it, even as WHO’s own scientists called for backup. When WHO did send staffers to Africa, they were of mixed calibre. Fellow responders said many lacked Ebola experience; one WHO consultant who got infected with Ebola broke his own agency’s protocol, putting others at risk and getting WHO kicked out of a hotel, the AP found.

……..  The vacuum of leadership at WHO was so damaging the U.N. created the Mission for Ebola Emergency Response to take over the overall fight against the disease.

….. By the time WHO declared an international emergency, nearly 1,000 people were already dead. Overall, more than 10,000 are thought to have died in the year since the outbreak was announced.

NYT: 5 Key Findings

1. WHO officials privately floated the idea of declaring an international health emergency in early June, more than a month before the agency maintains it got its first sign the outbreak merited one — in late July — and two months before the declaration was finally made on August 8, 2014.

2. WHO blamed its slow response partly on a lack of real-time information and the surprising characteristics of the epidemic. In fact it had accurate field reports — including scientists asking for backup — and it identified the unprecedented features of the outbreak. The agency was also hobbled by a shortage of funds and a lack of clear leadership over its country and regional offices.

3. Politics appear to have clouded WHO’s willingness to declare an international emergency. Internal emails and documents suggest the U.N. health agency was afraid of provoking conflict with the Ebola-stricken countries and wary that a declaration could interfere with the economy and the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.

4. An Ebola-infected WHO consultant in Sierra Leone violated WHO health protocols, creating a rift with Doctors Without Borders that was only resolved when WHO was thrown out of a shared hotel.

5. Despite WHO’s pledges to reform, many of the proposed changes are recycled suggestions from previous outbreaks that have never taken hold. Any meaningful reform to the organization would likely require countries to rewrite the constitution, a prospect many find unpalatable.

WHO’s politically appointed country heads in Africa dropped the Ebola ball

October 18, 2014
Dr Louis Sambo

Dr Louis Sambo, WHO Regional Director Africa

Why are the WHO’s Regional Directors (for Africa, Dr. Luis Sambo) not answerable to the head of the WHO in Geneva?

The first indications that the Ebola ourbreak was getting out of control were raised in April by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF).

BBC: Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) warned in April that the outbreak was out of control – something disputed by the WHO at the time.

…… In the worst affected countries – Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone – the Ebola virus has now killed 4,546 people with cases of infection numbering 9,191, according to the latest WHO figures.

AP carries a damning story of the complacency of the African WHO representatives who seem to have been unwilling to even acknowledge that there was a problem on their turfs. That the country heads of the WHO are mainly political appointments is not perhaps so surprising, but even all the Regional Directors around the world are apparently not responsible or accountable to the WHO head in Geneva.  That does not seem to be an organisation very conducive to taking actions on medical reasons alone. Presumably the African Regional Director is himself a political appointee (from Angola in this case) and  was elected to his position in 2005. It would seem that the position of Regional Director primarily reflects some political balance rather than just competence for the job to be done.

The outbreak began at least in January and by April had already killed 69 just in Guinea (around 70% fatalities of those infected).

AP:

In a draft document, the World Health Organization has acknowledged that it botched attempts to stop the now-spiraling Ebola outbreak in West Africa, blaming factors including incompetent staff and a lack of information.

In the document obtained by The Associated Press, the agency wrote that experts should have realized that traditional infectious disease containment methods wouldn’t work in a region with porous borders and broken health systems.

“Nearly everyone involved in the outbreak response failed to see some fairly plain writing on the wall,” WHO said in the document. “A perfect storm was brewing, ready to burst open in full force.”

The U.N. health agency acknowledged that, at times, even its own bureaucracy was a problem. It noted that the heads of WHO country offices in Africa are “politically motivated appointments” made by the WHO regional director for Africa, Dr. Luis Sambo, who does not answer to the agency’s chief in Geneva, Dr. Margaret Chan.

 ….. The document — a timeline on the Ebola outbreak — was not issued publicly but the AP was told the health agency would be releasing it earlier this week. However, WHO officials said in an email Friday that the timeline would now probably not be released publicly. No official at the agency would comment Friday on the draft report.

Dr. Peter Piot, the co-discoverer of the Ebola virus, agreed in an interview Friday that WHO acted far too slowly, largely because of its Africa office.

“It’s the regional office in Africa that’s the front line,” he said at his office in London. “And they didn’t do anything. That office is really not competent.” 

WHO’s other regional directors — the Americas, Southeast Asia, Europe, Eastern Mediterranean and the Western Pacific — are also not accountable to Geneva and are all elected by their regions.

Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, also questioned why it took WHO five months and 1,000 deaths before the agency declared Ebola an international health emergency in August.

“I called for a state of emergency to be declared in July and for military operations to be deployed,” Piot said. But he said WHO might have been scarred by its experience during the 2009 swine flu pandemic, when it was slammed for hyping the situation.

In late April, during a teleconference on Ebola among infectious disease experts that included WHO officials, Doctors Without Borders and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, questions were raised about the performance of WHO experts, as not all of them bothered to send Ebola reports to WHO headquarters, according to the draft document.

In the timeline, WHO said it was “particularly alarming” that the head of its Guinea office refused to help get visas for an expert Ebola team to come in and that $500,000 in aid was being blocked by administrative hurdles. ….

In fact the outbreak dates back at least to the beginning of this year. In Guinea, 69 people had already died between January and April 21st of Ebola:

MedicalDaily: Apr 21, 2014

Sixty-nine people have died since January of Ebola in the West African country of Guinea with 109 cases now confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO). … WHO’s Dr. Rene Zitsamele-Coddy said in a press release. “As soon as the outbreak was confirmed on March 21, we started to work with [Guinea officials] and other partners to implement necessary measures,” she said. ”It is the first time the country is facing an Ebola outbreak, so WHO expertise in the area is valuable.”

 

India has 13 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities with New Delhi as the worst

May 9, 2014

The WHO has released the 2014 update of its Ambient Air Pollution database.

The database contains results of ambient (outdoor) air pollution monitoring from almost 1600 cities in 91 countries. Air quality is represented by annual mean concentration of fine particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5, i.e. particles smaller than 10 or 2.5 microns).

The database covers the period from 2008 to 2013, with the majority of values for the years 2011 and 2012. The primary sources of data include publicly available national/subnational reports and web sites, regional networks such as the Asian Clean Air Initiative and the European Airbase, and selected publications. The database aims to be representative for human exposure, and therefore primarily captures measurements from monitoring stations located in urban background, residential, commercial and mixed areas.

The world’s average PM10 levels by region range from 26 to 208 ug/m3, with a world’s average of 71 ug/m3.

India has the dubious distinction of having 6 of the ten worst polluted, 13 of the 20 worst polluted cities and 20 of the 50 most polluted. Needless to say New Delhi is the worst. Delhi, Patna, Gwalior and Raipur are the 4 worst polluted cities in the world. 

50 most polluted cities WHO 2014 (pdf)

Delhi’s preeminent position in the pollution stakes was also reported by the Yale 2014 Environmental Performance Index which I posted about in February. I wrote then:

Whether Delhi is worse or better than Beijing is irrelevant. The point is that Delhi is as bad as it is.

I visit Delhi 5 or 6 times every year and it has the worst air quality that I experience. It is dust particles in the main – and a lot of that is from the ubiquitous building rubble and  building materials lying in piles (some small and some large) all over the city. The diesel engine particulates have – I think – reduced after the introduction of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) for taxis and autos but they build up every night when the long-distance trucks roll through the city (they are banned during the day).

But Delhi is essentially a huge building site. In new building projects (many for domestic dwellings), building materials (bricks, sand, cement, tiles, sewer pipes….) are all brought and dumped in open piles on the street long before any building actually commences. Even completed building projects leave behind their piles of sand and bricks and rubble on the street which are never cleaned up. If a road is dug up for any reason the remaining mud and rubble is never actually cleared up . it is usually just pushed to one side. The last mile syndrome applies and nothing ever gets finally or properly finished.

But the real issue is one of attitude and behaviour. .. 

Delhi’s atmosphere is what it is because the citizens of Delhi do not give any value to it being any better.

I travel to Delhi 5 or 6 times a year and can vouch for the muck and grime both in the air and on the ground. The problem is not one of money or of technology but of attitudes. The population of Delhi – on average – just does not give much value to the quality of the environment they live in. The politicians are followers rather than leaders and none have the courage to follow a vision of what Delhi could be like

The Indian General Election results are due out in a week.

Toilets before temples may win the day. 

Alarmist WHO for sure .. but why and for whom?

June 29, 2010

Handling of the H1N1 pandemic

The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) today endorsed the conclusions of its Health Committee regarding the Swine flu pandemic and the actions of the WHO.

According to the Assembly, the handling of the pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), EU health agencies and national governments led to a “waste of large sums of public money, and unjustified scares and fears about the health risks faced by the European public”. The report finds that there was “overwhelming evidence that the seriousness of the pandemic was vastly overrated by WHO”, resulting in a distortion of public health priorities.

The WHO has been “highly defensive”, the adopted text underlines, and unwilling to accept that a change in the definition of a pandemic was made, or to revise its prognosis of the Swine Flu outbreak. The WHO and European health institutions were not willing to publish the names and declarations of interest of the members of the WHO Emergency Committee and relevant European advisory bodies directly involved in recommendations concerning the pandemic.

The obvious beneficiaries are the pharmaceutical manufacturers of vaccines and Tamiflu and their supporters.

But is anybody at the WHO accountable to anybody?


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