As two US nurses are declared Ebola-free, a new case crops up, this time in NYC.
Authorities in New York confirmed on Thursday night that a doctor who had recently returned to his home in Harlem after working for Doctors Without Borders in Guinea helping treat patients with Ebola had tested positive for the disease and had been put in isolation at a Manhattan hospital.
It’s a new episode in a terrifying farce.
NYPD Stunner: Cops Exit Ebola Victim Apartment, Dump Gloves, Masks In Sidewalk Trash Can
Ebola has now reached Mali.
Mali’s health minister says the West African country has confirmed its first case of Ebola.
Worse still, the baby girl in Mali is reported to have been bleeding from her nose while she traveled from Guinea on a bus that stopped in several towns in Mali. WHO is now warning that a large number of people may have been exposed to the girl while she was infectious.
Criticism of the WHO seems to be mounting.
The epidemic has exposed a disconnect between the aspirations of global health officials and the reality of infectious disease control. Officials hold faraway strategy sessions about fighting emerging diseases and bioterrorism even as front-line doctors and nurses don’t have enough latex gloves, protective gowns, rehydrating fluid or workers to carry bodies to the morgue.
“We cannot wait for those high-level meetings to convene and discuss over cocktails and petits fours what they’re going to do,” exclaimed Joanne Liu, international head of Doctors Without Borders, when she heard about another U.N. initiative. Her group was among the first to respond to the viral conflagration, and it kept its staff in West Africa throughout the crisis.
And if you follow the money, here’s a revelation about what’s been going on inside the WHO.
The WHO is governed by the 194-nation World Health Assembly, in which, as Garrett put it, “Vanuatu and China” have equal voting power. Throughout the early 2000s, the member states consistently failed to vote to raise their own membership dues, “so in 2013 they were paying the same dues based on per capita GDP that they were in the 1980s. The core budget, adjusted for inflation, was going steadily downhill.”
This meant that donations from rich countries and private entities like the Gates Foundation had to fill the gap. But these donors can earmark their donations for specific issues—say, HIV/AIDS or smoking prevention. As former WHO assistant director-general Jack Chow put it in 2010, this means the budget is “increasingly divvied up before it ever reaches the WHO.” Margaret Chan herself acknowledged this problem in a recent interview, saying, “My budget [is] highly earmarked, so it is driven by what I call donor interests. When there’s an event, we have money. Then after that, the money stops coming in, then all the staff you recruited to do the response, you have to terminate their contracts.”
“There was more and more of a sense that if you’re part of the developing world, if you’ve left the ranks of the impoverished world, you no longer think that infectious diseases are part of your agenda,” says Garrett. “You become part of the rich club when you start worrying about cancer and heart disease. So there was a lot of pressure to shift the priorities of the organization away from disease identification and rapid response and toward normalizing programs for treatment and prevention of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, etc.”
Not just Gates earmarking money for specific issues, I bet. But almost certainly Michael Bloomberg as well. And maybe others too. Here are WHO’s 2008 donors.
Was the WHO in effect bought by Gates and Bloomberg and co.? As core funding gradually dried up, did rich “philanthropists” like Michael Bloomberg step in with offers of money to fund WHO antismoking and other lifestyle initiatives? So that while there was plenty of money to fund gigs like the recent closed-door FCTC conference in Moscow, attended by WHO Director General Margaret Chan, there was next to nothing left for latex gloves and protective gowns in West Africa.
Maybe this is the complete explanation of the WHO’s shift to lifestyle medicine, which got seriously under way with the arrival of Gro Harlem Brundtland in the 1990s. Maybe that was when antismoking ideologues like Bloomberg started buying influence, and began to gradually twist the WHO to their own ends?
This means essentially that the WHO is up for grabs to the highest donors, and that it must set its health policies and projects on those issues, which will bring in the most donations. In other words, its global health priorities are now being determined by what appeals to its biggest donors rather than by the actual needs of the world’s poorest and sickest populations, the very population WHO was set up to serve.
And that’s why we’re now seeing scenes like this in West Africa:
Bodies lying on the floor of Redemption Hospital, Monrovia