Would the world be getting along any better without this outfit, which is in theory such a good idea? Would we be in better health?
The question is as serious as it is relevant.
Though even one death is one too many, compared with the alarmist forecasts from this professional organisation that were foisted on all the ministries of health the world over, one could say that the H1N1 viral pandemic, version 2009, has so far produced not much more than a mouse.
But what a fabulous show for the media!
What a brilliantly organized panic!
How many millions of euros spent, and best of all, what worrying rumours, about the health risks linked this time to the vaccination, which might not even work!
Thus arose a psychosis that might have stolen the headlines even from a much more palpable threat, much more deadly and with effects that have already been felt to the bone by a large part of the world’s population: the climatic effects of pollution and of the way of life engendered by the currently prevailing ideology, that of extreme and unfair capitalism, “deregulated” as it is called in the sober phraseology of its well-heeled master thieves.
Meanwhile the media, ignoring for a moment its celebrities and football matches, chose to focus the limelight – and thus the gaze of the spectator sheep – on the representatives, experts and spokespersons of this organization, the WHO. Until this year its existence may have been news to some people, but now its importance is plain to see.
We have been shown people with serious faces and a professional air, the sort to whom ordinary mortals tend to ascribe genuine competence and evident integrity.
Their herald, elevated by some to hero, is called Margaret Chan. If her manner does not excite much sympathy, her curriculum vitae speaks for itself.
WHO: the Facts
Like other world organisations born from the ashes of the war of 1940-45 (the WTO, successor to GATT, the IMF, the UN, successor to the League of Nations), the WHO is a sort of transnational superministry, in this case for health.
Its power overrides that of its national equivalents. It is not subjected to genuinely democratic electoral procedures, in the sense of representing the choice expressed by the populations of its member countries. This is true of all these organisations that in fact control our daily lives in their respective fields. Its constitution came into force on 7 April 1948.
All these organisations are in a way like the arms, the tentacles of an enormous octopus whose purpose is to coordinate, improve and reinforce significant action on a planetary scale.
To clarify a crucial point: it would be misleading to think that these organisations undertake anything at all independently of each other. One could as well imagine that the liver can go on doing its own thing without being at all involved with the heart or the kidneys.
All of them work towards the same goals, each in their own specialist sphere, and all of them answer to the UN and to those who provide their funding.
The WHO has nothing to blame itself for
If you go to the official WHO site, you will of course get the impression that this organisation has a spotless record, and deserves to be praised for its humanitarian deeds.
It’s a bit like Monsanto, this multinational that dominates the market in agribusiness and wants to impose on the whole world its GM seeds complete with the Terminator gene (1), yet which tries to make you believe that the well-being and development of poor countries is its main concern.
Anyway, as in any court of law, it’s democratic, enlightened, modern, to give the “accused” party the chance to put its case.
As for the accusations of corruption and collusion with the pharmaceutical companies in the context of the worldwide vaccination campaign of 2009, it is Margaret Chan in person who has stepped up to the plate to defend the reputation of the WHO.
It’s important to realise that the accusations are weighty, well argued, and made by institutions that are well established, and pronounced by scientists and investigative journalists who are credible and trustworthy. It is difficult to dismiss all of them as a handful of conspiracy theorists, as regularly happens nowadays as soon as an interesting and well-argued debate is launched on a sensitive issue (the official version of the 9/11 attacks, the GIEC’s theory of global warming, Iran’s nuclear intentions, and so on).
It’s true that there is a certain logic in having a measure of collaboration between the WHO and the pharmaceutical companies that produce the medications.
However it is legitimate to ask questions about the exact part played by these firms in the decisions finally taken by the WHO, and on their real influence.
According to the WHO, there are many guarantees in place for managing potential conflicts of interest, as well as how they are perceived by public opinion.
The external experts who advise the WHO are […] obliged to provide a declaration of absence of conflict of interest as well as full professional and financial details that might compromise the impartiality of their opinions. Procedures are in place to identify, research and evaluate any potential conflicts of interest, to divulge them and take appropriate measures, such as excluding an expert from a consultative body, an expert study group or a meeting.
Still according to the WHO, the members of the Emergency Committee have to swear to the absence of any conflict of interest. The members of the Committee are chosen from a list of about 160 experts covering a range of areas of public health. The international health regulations (IHR) that came into force in 2007 envisage also a ruling that aims to coordinate the response to public health emergencies on an international scale, such as the H1N1virus pandemic. But the IHR also includes provisions for setting up, if a pandemic arises, an Emergency Committee that advises the Director General on such questions as the need to raise the level of alert, to recommend temporary measures, and so on. All the members of the Emergency Committee will have signed a confidentiality agreement, provided a declaration of no conflict of interest, and agreed to devote time as a consultant to fulfil their duty, without compensation.
Admirable principles, but without any basis in fact!
More details regarding France:
Who are the French experts? On behalf of France, we find among the consultants for the WHO and the Group SAGE, several members of the Agence de Médecine Préventive (AMP), an agency that lists its industrial partner as Sanofi Pasteur, Sanofi Aventis. We also find Prof. Daniel Floret, President of the Comité Technique de Vaccination, who lists numerous collaborations with the pharmaceutical industry; several members of the Sanofi Pasteurlaboratory, declared as such; a member of the Sanofi Pasteur MSD laboratory; and some other members from the pharmaceutical industry who are based in France.
Thanks to the site Santé log for providing the extracts (in italic, above) of a document from the WHO.
The WHO must give an account of itself
If, unlike most people who only stop to admire the window display, we actually go into the shop, we’ll discover two things:
While the fine words are there to soothe our feelings of distrust, it is still true that the close ties between the WHO experts and the pharmaceutical industry are very dangerous, very obscure and difficult to unravel.
Without being a conspiracy theorist for the fun of it, as if it was a sport or a pastime – as the crusaders backing the official versions and the window-dressing of the official sites seem to think – one thing is clear to my mind, that being obscure does not sit well with being truthful.
If the complexity that characterizes all modern institutions bewilders the outsider and puts major hurdles in the way of ordinary people like me pursuing their interests, it is an unintended consequence of modernity and of the ever-multiplying range of tasks and objectives.
Being deliberately obscure is something else. It is intended to hide something, to conceal intentionally.
The financing of the WHO
In the beginning, the WHO was supposed to receive funds only from the governments of United Nations members, but a few years ago, in order to swell its coffers WHO set up what it calls a “private partnership” that allows it to receive financial support from private industries. But which industries?
Since that time its credibility, seriously tarnished, has not improved very much, and its independence is seriously questioned because of its total lack of transparency with regard to the scientific proof that supports its recommendations, and its collusion with the multinationals. It is obvious that on the world stage, business and politics have a powerful influence on health. (2)
The spotless reputation of the WHO was already besmirched by a book that came out in 1997, Le OMS : Bateau ivre de la santé publique [The WHO, the drunken sailor of public health], ed. L’Harmattan, by Bertrand Deveaud, a journalist, and Bertrand Lemennicier, professor of economics, who had spent two years making enquiries throughout the world and consulting numerous official and confidential reports. Two medical journals well-respected by the profession had already sown doubts as to the integrity and the infallibility of the WHO, The British Medical Journal (BMJ) in regard to the management of the bird flu in 2005, and The Lancet (3), which described the WHO as an institution that was corrupt and on its last legs.
I leave you to ponder awhile these phrases, reported by the journalist Sylvie Simon in one of her articles (4), particularly the passages in bold (my emphasis):
Doctors Andrew Oxman and Atle Fretheim, from the Norwegian Knowledge Centre for the Health Services and Dr John Lavis, from McMaster University in Canada, interviewed the management of the WHO and analysed its various recommendations. Andrew Oxman concluded that “it is difficult to evaluate the confidence thatone can have in the recommendations of the WHO without knowing how they were prepared.”* (*Obscurity).
“We know that our credibility is at stake,” admitted Dr Tikki Pang, director of research for the WHO. “The lack of time and the shortage of information and of money can sometimes compromise the work of the WHO.” Some senior officials of the organisation have also admitted that in many cases the proof that was supposed to be the basis of a recommendation did not exist.
Many testimonies have revealed that when the results don’t match those that the industries and companies are hoping for in order to validate their products, standards are altered and the results manipulated.
Contrary to any procedure that is genuinely scientific and independent, which should base its conclusions on the verified results of its experiments, it seems that the tendency is to do just the opposite, and that results are adapted to produce the desired conclusions; desired that is by the firms producing the medicines, vaccines, and other products concerned.
To cite one example:
Dr Oxman criticized the WHO for having its own quality control methods. In 1999 when its views on the treatment of hypertension were criticised, mainly because of the high price of the medicines recommended without any proof that they were more effective than cheaper ones, the Organisation published some “recommendations for preparing recommendations” which led to a revision of the advice on treating hypertension. (5)
Other murky issues have been brought to the surface by courageous researchers: cholesterol and statins (6), mobile telephony, with manipulation of the data on the harmfulness of electromagnetic radiation (7)…and of course, serious doubts are being expressed on the real danger of the 2009 viral H1N1 pandemic, which has enabled the pharmaceutical companies to rake in millions of dollars of profit.
The bank JP Morgan on Wall Street estimated that, thanks mainly to the pandemic alert issued by the WHO, the pharmaceutical giants, who also finance the work of the ESWI run by Albert Osterhaus, were set to make $7.5-$10 billion profit. (8)
The ESWI, European Scientific Working group on Influenza, describes itself as “a multidisciplinary group of leaders of opinion on the flu, whose purpose is to fight against the repercussions of a flu epidemic or pandemic”. As its members themselves explain, the ESWI, directed by Osterhaus, is the central pivot “between the WHO in Geneva, the Institut Robert Koch in Berlin and the University of Connecticut in the United States”.
The most significant thing about the ESWI is that its work is entirely financed by the same pharmaceutical laboratories that are making millions thanks to the pandemic emergency, while it is the pronouncements made by the WHO that compel the governments of the whole world to buy and to stock the vaccines. The ESWI receives funding from the manufacturers and distributors of the H1N1 vaccines, such as Baxter Vaccines, MedImmune, GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi Pasteur and others, including
Novartis, who produces the vaccine, and the distributor of Tamiflu, Hofmann-La Roche.(9)
Who is Albert Osterhaus?
Nicknamed “Dr Flu”, Albert Osterhaus, the best known virologist in the world, official consultant on the H1N1 virus to the British and Dutch governments and head of the Department of Virology in the Medical Centre of Erasmus University, has a seat among the élite of the WHO gathered together in the SAGE Group, and is president of the ESWI, which is supported by the pharmaceutical industry.
In its turn the ESWI recommended extraordinary measures to vaccinate the whole world, considering that there was a high risk of a new pandemic which, they insisted, could be comparable to the terrifying pandemic of “Spanish” flu in 1918. (10)
Albert Osterhaus is not the only senior consultant to the WHO whose name is implicated in the dossiers on corruption and possible collusion between the WHO and the pharmaceutical firms, and an industry that wants to sell its products whatever it costs: others are David Salisbury (3)(9), Frederick Hayden (9), Arnold Monto (9), Henry L. Niman, Klaus Stöhr (11).
Professor David Salisbury, who is attached to the British Ministry of Health, is the head of SAGE at the WHO. At the same time he directs the Consultative Group on H1N1 at the WHO. Salisbury is a fervent defender of the pharmaceutical industry. In Britain the health action group One Click (10) accused him of concealing the proven correlation between vaccine use and the steep increase in autism in children, as well as the correlation between the vaccine Gardasil and cases of paralysis and even death.
Dr Frederick Hayden is at the same time member of SAGE at the WHO and of the Wellcome Trust in London; in fact he is one of the close friends of Osterhaus. In exchange for “consultative” services, Hayden receives money from Roche and from GlaxoSmithKline as well as from other pharmaceutical giants engaged in producing goods connected with the H1N1 crisis. (12)
There is yet another member of the WHO enjoying close relations with the vaccine manufacturers who profit from SAGE’s recommendations, in the person of Dr Arnold Monto, a consultant paid by the vaccine manufacturers MedImmune, Glaxo and ViroPharma. (13)
[interview with Wolfgang Wodarg]…Without going so far as outright corruption, which I’m sure exists, there are a hundred and one ways in which the labs can bring their influence to bear on decisions. I noticed specifically, for example, how Klaus Stöhr, who was the head of the epidemiology department at the WHO during the time of the bird flu, and who had therefore prepared the plans for dealing with a pandemic that I referred to earlier, had meanwhile become part of the senior management at Novartis. And similar links exist between Glaxo, Baxter, etc. and influential WHO members. These big firms have “their people” in the system and somehow manage things so that good political decisions are taken – that’s to say, decisions that enable them to pump the maximum amount of money out of the taxpayers. (14)
As for “Dr Flu” Osterhaus, it’s so bad that the Dutch Parliament (15) has serious doubts about him and has opened an enquiry into conflict of interest and bribery.
Outside the Netherlands and the Dutch media, only a few lines in the well-respected British journal Science(16) have made mention of the sensational investigation into the affairs of Osterhaus, who still has the confidence of his Minister of Health.
What all these experts have in common is the concealment of their connections with the pharmaceutical companies while they hold a senior and influential position in the decision-making hierarchy at the WHO, and the fact that they are never challenged. The conflict of interest is obvious, yet systematically minimized.
It is not their expertise or their intrinsic competence that is being questioned, but their independence and their integrity.
The whole matter is sufficiently serious, given the topic in question – our health, to sow doubt and to justify pursuing every investigation, every question, with means that match the urgency of the issue, and by organizations of irreproachable reputation that are truly independent.
It is not the WHO that should investigate the WHO
It’s as if the accused was allowed to lead the enquiry into the crimes imputed to them. If I were an impartial prosecutor, not aiming for scandal or publicity but only for the truth, whatever it may be, even if it is worse than the worst of the lies, I would call to the bar:
Dr Wolfgang Wodarg, president of the Health Commission of the Council of Europe. This member of the German parliament, an epidemiologist, has just requested the Council for a commission of enquiry. In his interview with the paper Der Spiegel, Dr. Wodarg did not hesitate to talk about “one of the greatest medical scandals of the century”. (17)
Next, Alison Katz,
A researcher who spent 17 years at the WHO, and who on 22 January 2007 sent an open letter to the new director of the agency, the Chinese Margaret Chan, accusing the organisation of “corruption, nepotism, violation of its statutes and ineffectiveness in its internal control system”, and concluding that “the WHO has become a victim of neo-liberal globalisation”. She denounced “the commercialisation of science and the close ties between the industry and academic institutions” and “corporatist” private science, and considered that “the WHO ought to be the leader of a movement to transform the way in which scientific research is done, including its sources of funding, as well as the acquisition and use of knowledge” and that the officials of an international organization do not have the right “not to know”. (18)
Lastly, Tom Jefferson, a renowned epidemiologist, member of the Cochrane Collaboration, an organisation of independent scientists including a commission that evaluates all the studies carried out on influenza. In an interview given to the German magazine Der Spiegel, he revealed the consequences of the privatisation of the WHO and the way in which health has been turned into a money-making machine. (19)
Tom Jefferson: “[…] one of the most bizarre characteristics of this flu, and of all the saga that has played out, is that year after year people make more and more pessimistic forecasts. So far none of them has come true, but these people are still there repeating their predictions. For instance, what happened to the bird flu that was supposed to kill us all off? Nothing. But that doesn’t stop these people from making their predictions. Sometimes you get the feeling that the whole industry is starting to hope for a pandemic.”
Der Spiegel: “Who are you referring to? The WHO?”
- J: “The WHO and those in charge of public health, the virologists and the pharmaceutical laboratories. They’ve created a whole system around the imminence of a pandemic. There is a lot of money at stake, as well as networks of influence, careers and whole institutions! And the minute one of the flu viruses mutates we’d see the whole machine roll into action.” (20)
When he was asked if the WHO had deliberately declared a pandemic emergency in order to create a huge market for the H1N1 vaccines and medications, Jefferson replied:
“Don’t you find it remarkable that the WHO had changed its definition of a pandemic? The old one specified a new virus, one that spread rapidly, for which there was no immunity and that caused a high rate of illness and of death. Now these last two points on the levels of infection have been deleted, and that’s how the A flu became classed in the pandemic category.” (21)
Very conveniently, the WHO published the new definition of a pandemic in April 2009, just in time to enable them, on the advice coming from, among others, SAGE, “Dr Flu” (alias Albert Osterhaus), and David Salisbury, to declare that mild cases of the flu, renamed A H1N1, signalled a pandemic emergency. (22)
Yes, Tom Jefferson, Alison Katz, Wolfgang Wodarg, among others, and investigative journalists who are neither conspiracy fanatics nor yes-men, would be on my list of witnesses to call.
Strangely enough, while the media were so agitated at the peak of the virus panic during 2009, as soon as a few rumours started spreading about strange goings-on at the WHO involving some scarcely known names, they switched off the spotlights, preferring to redirect the docile spectators to more amusing topics such as the antics of Johnny Hallyday, the comeback in Belgian women’s tennis, the escapades of Michel Daerden or of Nicolas Sarkozy (politicians Belgian and French respectively), and the hopeful proclamations of Barack PeaceObama – at the same time hinting that, while that was all well and good, we should still, as our obedient ministers were saying, be sure to go and get vaccinated while the wicked flu was offering a brief respite.
The dirty conspiracy rumours of corruption, the names so well-known in the business but so unknown to the general public – let’s forget them! Above all, let’s not rock the boat!
The vaccines have been bought, the recommendations given and millions of doses of poison already injected.
Does the truth frighten us so much that we prefer lies, and more and more of them, in our controlled lives, even when it is our health that is at stake?
It may all look very complicated but actually it is very easy.
For each new item of information, a “lite” sweetened version is made up, relayed by the bought-and-paid-for media and sold to us, the viewers, who swallow it without question.
The main drivers of this globalisation are fear and ignorance, the result of this insipid simplification of everything, which takes away any depth, any questioning that is necessary, in fact indispensable, if one wants to understand what is really happening.
It’s the same again with terrorism, where any unexplained event is always blamed on the same scary monster: Al Qaeda – without raising the slightest query about this attribution.(23) An explosion? Al Qaeda. A hijacking? Al Qaeda. An attack on civilians? Al Qaeda. An earthquake? Al Qaeda.
It’s the same again with the dogmatic statements about manmade global warming. This no longer brooks any discussion, any further research, any questioning: it’s a heresy to even think of it. Human CO2 is the Al Qaeda equivalent of the uncertainty factor in global warming.
It’s the same again with pandemics and other health cataclysms of the future. As the GIEC tells us about CO2, the WHO simplifies the problem for us and we thank them: “Get vaccinated. Don’t ask any questions. We have the most trustworthy and competent experts. The pharmaceutical firms, overflowing with philanthropy, are working day and night to save us.” And we believe it.
Humanity of the 21st century is in grave danger, a deadly danger that lurks within each of us.
It’s not Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (24), this Nigerian student of 23, the Christmas present from Al Qaeda to the war strategy of Peace Obama.
It’s not a virus, the St Valentine’s present to Baxter, GSK, Novartis and the rest.
It’s not our CO2, Nature’s present to our bankrupt politicians. It’s not even Al Gore, that serial sweet talker, condemned by the courts in Great Britain for no less than 11 flagrant lies and misrepresentations noted in his film, which inconveniences only the truth. (25) It’s not Al Qaeda, or any other extremist Islamic organisation.
All those are nothing but scary monsters that press the fear button, that’s to say, they are enemies but relatively minor ones.
It’s our abdication. That’s our enemy number one.
We are living in a time when globalisation has not, as it was expected to in the beginning, brought about a world that is better governed, more just, more transparent, but on the contrary, has created a system that is harder to decipher and understand, and is all-powerful.
This brew of omnipotence and dense secrecy, of being all-powerful and totally resistant to democratic investigation, is deadly. That’s the greatest threat to mankind today.
We have surrendered, preferring to go on deluding ourselves, when so many signs that something is going wrong should have impelled us to regain control.
Instead of which we put ourselves in the hands of these great authorities who are suspected of bribery and corruption, endowed with bad faith and a cynicism that balks at nothing.
Guided by the media and looking only at the things they turn their spotlight on, held by the hand, we choose to believe them instead of asking questions.
Given the present situation, I’ll answer my own question without hesitating:
The world would be getting along much better without these international organisations whose original mission has been hijacked for the sake of financial profits for the few.
As far as the WHO is concerned, we would be in much better health.