Oh happy day! Finally, the World Health Organisation’s Nanny-in-Chief, Dr Margaret Chan, has bitten the dust. As she is replaced this week by Ethiopia’s Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, we bid a fond farewell to the woman who prioritised smoking bans from despots, e-cigarette legislation from dictators and low BMI rates as a result of state-sponsored famine over Ebola and Zika.
Yet even this week, the WHO could not avoid scandal, as the Times reported on the scandalous waste of financial resources that has occurred at the hands of this organisation, frittering away more money on expensive travel and accommodation for its top brass than its spends on tackling Aids and malaria combined.
Sadly, as recently opined on Spiked, reform in the WHO, though long overdue, is simply not going to happen any time soon. It’s an unaccountable gravy train – and profoundly anti-democratic, even though it takes tax-payers’ money to supposedly be the world’s first line of defence against global pandemics.
Dr Tedros could make a name for himself as the great reforming DG of what should be one of humanity’s greatest accomplishments: an international organisation that helps prevent spreadable disease, regardless of economic status or borders. At the moment, it looks nothing like becoming that. Should Tedros transform it, and drag the WHO, kicking and screaming, away from just being a busybodies’ wet dream, surely greatness beckons.
History waits for no man, and as the former health minister of one of Africa’s most impoverished countries, he more than anybody should recognise the importance of prioritising tackling public health, rather than public habit? Alas, Dr Tedros is a paid-up member of the WHO establishment, so what chance of that happening?