Christopher Snowdon

Is it time for Britain to leave the WHO?

Since declaring Covid-19 to be ‘over as a global health emergency’ early last month, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has made it very clear that it has no intention of reforming. At its World Health Assembly two weeks ago, North Korea was among ten nations elected to sit on the WHO’s Executive Board, thereby giving Kim Jong-un’s totalitarian state the power to appoint WHO regional directors and potentially vote for the next director-general. The World Health Assembly did not censure North Korea for its countless human rights abuses, which include starving its own people. Instead it singled out Israel for criticism.

One of Tedros’s first acts as director-general was to appoint Robert Mugabe as a goodwill ambassador

A few days later, as Russian bombs fell on Ukrainian families, the WHO’s director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, met Putin’s deputy health minister to discuss what Dr Tedros described in an ill-advised tweet as Russia’s ‘work to advance maternal and child health’. Dr Tedros also found time to meet the president of Fifa, perhaps the only international organisation that has faced more allegations of corruption and incompetence, to sign a four-year extension of its Memorandum of Understanding.

With Covid-19 fading as a health threat, the WHO is keen to get back to talking about its real priorities. In April, it published ‘Reporting about alcohol: a guide for journalists’, an alleged ‘fact sheet’ largely written by neo-temperance campaigners which falsely claims that ‘there is no evidence for the common belief that drinking alcohol in moderate amounts can help people live longer by decreasing their risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke or other conditions’. There is, in fact, a mountain of such evidence built up over decades.

Last month, the WHO published a report claiming that artificial sweeteners do not help people lose weight and may cause cancer. Last week, Dr Tedros declared that switching from smoking to vaping should not be seen as harm reduction and that e-cigarettes are ‘a trap’.

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