H/T to Chris Snowdon for reporting something that had slipped under my radar:
On Saturday at the sixty-fifth World Health Assembly – a meeting of the 194 member countries of the World Health Organisation – ‘delegates approved the development of a global monitoring framework for the prevention and control of NCDs, including indicators and a set of global targets. Member States agreed to adopt a global target of a 25 per cent reduction in premature mortality from non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases by 2025.’
This is the place, as far as I can see, where most of the world’s legislation is made, by people whom nobody elected. Orders are sent out to the the 194 member countries, and they obey them.
And the current chief honcho of the WHO is someone called Margaret Chan. Or, to give her her full name, Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun, born in 1947 in Hong Kong. When I tried to pronounce the last three words, it sounded a bit like “Confusion.” I’ve been spending a while today finding out more about Mrs Confusion.
She never wanted to be a doctor, it seems.
She became a doctor out of love, not for medicine but for her new husband, David Chan… When he then decided to become a doctor, she worried that his medical studies would leave little opportunity for them to spend time together. So she enrolled alongside him at the University of Western Ontario. The couple returned to Hong Kong after graduation.
And, as far as I can make out, she never actually practised as a doctor. Because, according to wikipedia, she graduated with her M.D. in 1977, and in 1978 she joined the Hong Kong department of health, where she stayed for many years, rising up its ranks. In this respect she seems to be in the same mould as Gro Harlem Brundtland, who doesn’t seem to have actually tended anyone who was, y’know, actually sick. Or, for that matter, the late Richard Doll, who (apart from a spell on hospital ships during the war) doesn’t seem to have prescribed a single tablet in his entire life. They are, as it were, doctors in name only. My Dr W was another one. Their real interests lie elsewhere. And those interests may even be quite antithetical to medicine. But they portray themselves as doctors, and they bask in the the esteem in which the medical profession is held. They are, one might say, wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Eventually, anyway, she was promoted all the way to the top of the WHO, and after being nominated by China has just got herself a second 5-year term, starting on 1 July. Working for the WHO her principal achievement seems to have been that
In June 2009 she became the first WHO chief in 41 years to announce a worldwide pandemic when swine flu swept across the globe. This time around critics complained the public health expert had overreacted. The Council of Europe accused the WHO of having “gambled away” public confidence by overstating the dangers of the flu pandemic, in a draft report. But Chan is unrepentent, firmly stating,”That was the right call”
Certainly looks like the anti Right Stuff. She’s also signed up for global warming. But how strongly antismoking was she? The answer was to be found in a speech she made in March this year, early on in which she said:
Tobacco use is the world’s number one preventable killer. We know this statistically, beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Can anyone know something statistically, beyond a shadow of a doubt? It struck me as a contradiction in terms. Statistics deals with the probabilities or likelihoods of events, and there are always inherently shadows of doubt and uncertainty in its conclusions. But not in Mrs Chan’s mind, it seems. Nor did she have any doubt about who her enemy was:
And we have an enemy, a ruthless and devious enemy, to unite us and ignite a passionate commitment to prevail.
Unfortunately, this is where the balance no longer tips so strongly in our favour. The enemy, the tobacco industry, has changed its face and its tactics. The wolf is no longer in sheep’s clothing, and its teeth are bared.
Tactics aimed at undermining anti-tobacco campaigns, and subverting the Framework Convention, are no longer covert or cloaked by an image of corporate social responsibility. They are out in the open and they are extremely aggressive.
Big Tobacco is a big, bad wolf.
Big Tobacco can afford to hire the best lawyers and PR firms that money can buy. Big Money can speak louder than any moral, ethical, or public health argument, and can trample even the most damning scientific evidence. We have seen this happen before.
It is horrific to think that an industry known for its dirty tricks and dirty laundry could be allowed to trump what is clearly in the public’s best interest.
And there are other tactics, some new, others just old butts in new ashtrays…
More and more, investigations are uncovering the tobacco industry’s hand in court cases filed against tobacco control measures.
Paying people to use a country’s judicial system to challenge the legality of measures that protect the public is a flagrant abuse of the judicial system and a flagrant affront to national sovereignty. This is direct interference with a country’s internal affairs.
How dare the big bad wolf defend itself in court! That’s obviously an abuse of the judicial system, since the WHO is obviously in the right. It shouldn’t be allowed!
I doubt if I’ve ever read anything anywhere else that quite so completely demonises the tobacco industry.
And this focus on Big Tobacco is where I think Tobacco Control is making a catastrophic, strategic mistake. They’ve become fixated on a single enemy. But they have many more enemies than just Big Tobacco. Because these days, Tobacco Control isn’t just demonising Big Tobacco, but is also demonising the world’s 1.5 billion smokers. We are being expelled from society, refused medical treatment, fired from our jobs, vilified and degraded. We smokers are now the enemies of Tobacco Control too. Tobacco Control has made itself 1.5 billion enemies. And Mrs Confusion hasn’t even noticed it.
They may as well have dug their own graves, and climbed into them.
And that, more than anything, is why Tobacco Control will be destroyed, most likely along with the WHO and any number of associated organisations with 3-letter names. It has made itself far too many enemies. It’s inevitable.
They set out to destroy us, but we will destroy them.
And in fact, one might even say that such an outcome is beyond a shadow of a doubt.
P.S. He’s been getting around a bit, has that Snowdon chap.