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HillaryCare for the World By: Joseph Klein
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The World Health Organization (WHO) is a United Nations body created, in the words of its constitution, to "promote and protect the health of all peoples."

In its early years, WHO accomplished some life-saving goals, such as helping to eradicate smallpox. But like the rest of the United Nations, WHO has since turned into a bloated organization that has no real goal but to perpetuate itself. Today, WHO spends much of the money we contribute as taxpayers to protect its turf rather than to help the people it is supposed to serve. It conducts useless studies, holds meaningless conferences, issues biased reports and proselytizes a philosophy of redistributionist, government–run health systems.

WHO’s skewed priorities are reflected in how it spends its $4 billion plus budget. About one million people die from malaria every year, and the disease is likely to be a contributing factor in another two million deaths. Yet during the 2006-2007 budget cycle WHO spent four times as much money “to develop and sustain WHO as a flexible, learning organization” than it spent on combating malaria. WHO’s bureaucrats have spent more money on conferences and studies talking about malaria and other diseases than working on treatments and providing them in the field where they are needed.

An international group of thirteen malaria researchers have accused WHO of failing to promote available and effective malaria treatment in favor of ineffective but less-expensive drugs. Professor Paul Garner, lead author of a meta-analysis showing that adding artemisinin to standard treatments substantially reduces treatment failure, was quoted as saying that “[A]s a UK taxpayer, I am horrified that a UN organisation can waste money on interventions known to be ineffective.”[1]

Notwithstanding its own shortcomings, however, the World Health Organization’s bureaucrats do not relish alternative solutions from the private sector. Such solutions challenge WHO’s perception of itself as the global leader for formulating global health policy recommendations and evaluating treatments. WHO’s malaria chief, for example, just recently complained that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s massive spending on malaria research - about $1.2 billion since 2000 - is providing the Foundation with too much leverage in setting standards for determining which treatments work the best.

WHO’s leaders have also reportedly felt threatened by the growing influence of the Gates Foundation in ranking countries’ health systems – something WHO believes that it is uniquely equipped to do. The problem is that WHO’s rankings are biased by its ideological distrust of free market solutions to health care. People should not be permitted to decide for themselves how to meet their own health needs, according to the World Health Organization. Instead, it wants governments in charge of collecting, pooling and redistributing health care funds from individuals, to be spent as the governments dictate.

WHO advocates a global system of socialized medicine. It has summarized its underlying ideology as follows: “Fair financing in health systems means that the risks each household faces due to the costs of the health system are distributed according to ability to pay rather than to the risk of illness…”[2]

Thus, it should be no surprise that WHO officials intensely dislike America's reliance on private financing for health care. In its most recent published report comparing countries’ overall health system performance, the World Health Organization ranked the United States 37th out of 190 nations in health care services. [3]

WHO ranked the United States behind even Saudi Arabia. Someone must have forgotten to tell this to the Saudi ruling families and elite, who invariably have all their major operations done outside of their own country, including most notably in America.

Apparently, WHO was so impressed by the Saudis’ governmental control and funding of its health care system that it completely ignored the fact that women in Saudi Arabia are the victims of systematic and pervasive discrimination in health care just like they are in every other aspect of social life. WHO also ignored the horrible treatment that foreign residents with AIDS receive in Saudi Arabia as a matter of government policy. Although Saudi Arabia's economy is heavily reliant on foreign laborers, they nonetheless have few rights and are treated as an underclass. AIDS-infected foreign residents are locked up in cage-like conditions in hospitals run by Saudi Arabia's public health care system. They are denied access to antiretroviral medication that slows the spread of HIV and often prolongs the life of those infected, even though such drugs are given to Saudi citizens.

One Saudi doctor, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that foreign residents “get no medicine, no care, nothing. I tried my best, I talked to the director of the hospital about this many times. They told me: 'These are the rules of the country. You cannot change this.'” [4]

The same appalling treatment of foreign resident AIDS patients is found in the United Arab Emirates. That did not stop the World Health Organization from also ranking the UAE’s government-run health system above the United States private system in the provision of health care services.

As far as WHO is concerned, a publicly funded health system run by the government is better than the U.S. style free market system every time, no matter how perverse the consequences. Left wing ideology once again trumps good sense at the United Nations.


[1] Gavin Yamey, Researchers Accuse WHO and Global Fund of Malpractice, British Medical Journal (January 24, 2004).

[2] World Health Organization, "The World Health Report 2000" at 35 (emphasis in the original).

[3] Ibid.

[4] Mark Mackinnon, Saudis Jail, Deport Foreigners with HIV, Globe & Mail (August 9, 2005).

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