Skip to main content

Another tool for globalisation, why WHO is unable to focus on health


By Dr Javed Jamil*
The Covid-19 outbreak, which has almost totally paralysed normal life on the planet, has brought to the fore the widely ignored fact that the world health management system has failed to advance the cause of a socioeconomic and political system that safeguards rather than endangers life and healthiness of life. More than a million have already been affected with tens of thousands of deaths and the counts are geometrically multiplying with every minute.
The current lockdowns, safe distancing and curfews across the world have shown that the restrictions are an important part of the protection and if long terms protection against diseases is required, permanent restrictions too will have to be put in place on many activities and practices.
But the truth is that, in the name of the freedom, especially the “freedom of choice”, all such practices are being allowed, even glorified and globalised, that pose serious threats to life and healthiness of life. Certainly, there are many diseases that have now become treatable or preventable, namely, the infectious diseases like Tuberculo­sis, Cholera, Leprosy, Meningitis, Smallpox, Measles, Poliomyelitis, Diphtheria and Pertussis, to name a few.
But the economic fundamentalism has largely undone the great work done by medical scien­tists by promoting a social ambience that makes them susceptible to a large number of ailments—Lung and heart diseases, Cancers, especially of lung, liver, mouth and breast, sex related diseases, and above all the rise of new deadly viral epidemics and pandemics.
Instead of developing a health-protective social system, the market forces have glorified and commercialised everything that poses severe threats to life and health. It is indeed difficult to infer if man today actually faces less or more threat to his health than in the past. Whatever increase in the average age has been noticed in the last few decades, it is chiefly due to reduced Infant Mortality Rate. This reduction is counterbalanced by the high rate of feticide; more children are killed every year by way of abortion than are saved by vac­cines and antibiotics. Take abortions in consideration and the average age will nosedive.
The World Health Organisation or WHO was created in 1948. With over 190 Member States, it is the leading agency in international health. The stated goal of the WHO is “to foster the attainment by all peoples – especially the poor and most vulnerable – of the highest possible standards of health. The guiding principles of WHO are that “We can’t do it alone, so we work in partnership with others” and that “We can’t do it all at once so we set priorities”.
Priority setting, it is argued, helps “to focus the world’s attention, resources and actions on innovative and cost-effective public health action with specific goals and measurable results.” WHO is described by many as “the health conscience of the world”.
But if we examine the role of the World Health Organisation, we will have to conclude that it has failed abysmally in its role as the saviour of the world and in attaining the “highest possible standards of health”:
  • It has failed to put Health in the driver’s seat in the world affairs. Despite huge scientific and technological development, health continues to suffer. Developments continue to take place at the cost of health. (Where are the highest standards of health?)
  • It has failed to set health free from the clutches of the forces of economic fundamentalism. With the growth of market economics and its globalisation, it has become mere pawn in the hands of market forces. The economic fundamentalists are able to influence in a big way the decisions of the WHO. (Where are the highest standards of health?)
  • Under the impact of the economic fundamentalism, it has failed to lead a noticeable campaign against the items and practices that severely endanger health. In fact, all these practices are being commercialised in a big way, and the WHO has hardly shown any concern towards their sordid commercialisation. (Where are the highest standards of health?)
  • It has failed to take an equitable stand in the matters of health with the result that the weak and poor countries and the weak and poor within the countries continue to face mortality and morbidity without a tear being shed for them. (Where are the highest standards of health?)
  • With the interests of the market forces including those of the Pharmaceuticals, it is the prevention through artificial means rather than avoidance of unhealthy practices that has received all the attention. While there is no big campaign against drinking, gambling, promiscuity, prostitution, homosexuality and smoking, there is a huge emphasis on vaccines and the use of market products like lotions, pastes and condoms. (Where are the highest standards of health?)
  • Not only there is no campaign against unhealthy practices, prevention though vaccines, etc., too receives attention only where there are no treatments available to the diseases. For example, polio eradication programme received huge attention despite the fact that it causes very little mortality and morbidity compared to Tuberculosis, malaria and other infectious diseases because there is no treatment available in the market for Polio. The market forces are not interested in the eradication of malaria and Tuberculosis through intensive anti-mosquito and anti-Tuberculosis campaigns, as they are more interested in selling the medicines they have for these diseases. General hygiene has received much less attention. (Where are the highest standards of health?)
  • The WHO has fully failed to recognise the importance of family in health, and has failed to prevent the disintegration of family system, which is going on with a brisk space. Wherever the truck of globalisation roars, it signals doom for the family system. (Where are the highest standards of health?)
  • The WHO has also failed to develop any strategy of developing a health-protective and health-promoting social system. There is hardly any system in place that can guarantee health of the individuals. Social system has failed to create an environment conducive for a healthy life, and has instead promoted a system that increases mortality and morbidity due to suicides, crimes, rapes, unhealthy sexual behaviour, gambling, betting and other societal tensions emanating from poverty, economic exploitation and stresses of various kinds. (Where are the highest standards of health?)
  • The WHO has completely failed to influence the direction of social development, which is moving in the direction opposite to what health likes to pursue. (Where are the highest standards of health?)
  • It has also failed to force the international community in preventing the damages to the environment and has done too little and too late to reverse the damage. (Where are the highest standards of health?)
“We can’t do it alone, so we work in partnership with others” too has produced a kind of partnership between the WHO and the other international institutions where economy and not health remains the guiding force. The WHO has failed to act as the leader. The hierarchy of the WHO seems to have succumbed to the academic environment generated by the forces of economics, which does not speak a word about the machinations of the forces that rule the world.
The WHO does not simply have the guts to bring health into leadership role. The WHO is only busy in managing the threats generated by the current international World Order and to help it in strengthening its grip on mankind. The policymakers are in coma, and only an intensive therapy can now bring them back to consciousness. Hard words. But hard words need to be spoken to bring them out of coma.
The result of the defective, deficient and lacklustre approach adopted by the WHO and other organisations has been thatThe avoidable infections continue to kill people in large numbers,
New infections continue to emerge and become devastating killers and
The diseases due to lifestyle, commercialisation of certain practices and disintegration of the family system continue to increase.
Let us examine the following facts:
* The following is the list of major infectious diseases and the number of people they annually kill:
* More than 1 million people are murdered every year. (More than 240 million people lost lives in wars in the last century.)
* More than 2 million people commit suicides.
* More than 2.5 million people die of sex related diseases; (more than 20 million have died of AIDS in recent years).
* More than 2.5 million die of alcohol related problems.
* More than 5 million die of smoking related problems.
* More than 50 million children are not allowed to take birth and are aborted.
* More than a hundred million suffer from alcohol related illnesses.
* More than 2000 millions smoke.
* Hundreds of millions indulge in gambling. 500 million are now using Internet alone for gambling. (In US alone, 20 millions show some signs of gambling addiction and 2 million divorces had gambling as a significant factor.)
* More than 100 million suffer from sex transmitted diseases (42 million from HIV/AIDS).
* Tens of millions of women are in prostitution and other sex related businesses; (more than one million Americans alone have served as prostitutes).
* More than 1.2 million of children are exploited annually in prostitution and other sex trades.
* More than 800 million watch pornography.
* Millions of homes are broken every year.
* Millions of women are raped every year; in many Western countries one tenth to half of all women have been raped. (The total number of women who have been raped at least once is in hundreds of millions).
* Sexual abuse of children is on the rise all over the world; in many countries up to one third of all people have been sexually abused in their childhood.
* Drug addiction is also persistent; tens of millions of people are addicted of harmful drugs.
Corona Virus diseases has also highlighted the fact that the major viral killers (Swine Flu, HIV, HPV, Rabies, Hepatitis B) in last 100-120 years have been associated with pig farming, farming of wild animal meats, dogs, sexual practices like prostitution, promiscuity and homosexuality and most of these diseases have a connection with alcohol.
The above statistics point to the fact that the whole health and life saving structure of the world has crumbled, and the blame primarily goes on the leading agency, the WHO. How come that despite the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people due to alcohol, smoking, gambling, sexual malpractices, other changes in lifestyle and social norms and malnutrition, the WHO has not taken an initiative to eradicate these problems altogether?
These practices are killing hundreds of times the number of the people killed by terrorism, yet nothing is being done to counter this menace. The truth is that the WHO has been: first, criminally ignoring what the corporate world and the other forces are doing at the cost of the life and well-being of humans; second, trying their best to manage the adverse effects of their policies on health; and third, helping them in turning health itself into a huge industry.
In short, the WHO has merely become another tool of the globalisation. The industries that can rightly be termed as Medically Hazardous Industries have a global business of trillions of dollars Global Burden of Diseases and the economics of problems and solutions point to the fact that a big chunk of the global burden is on account of the policies of the current forces of New World Order, which aim to monopolise wealth through all possible means including commercialisation of human susceptibilities even at massive cost to the wellbeing of the mankind.
Has the WHO guts to declare these as such and campaign for their discontinuation? If it does not have the will and guts to adopt the dynamic approach towards preserving health and campaign aggressively to make the global systems health protective, it does not have the right to claim itself as the Health Conscience of the World.
The WHO should ask itself: Is it doing enough to attain the highest standards of health? The Corona Epidemic provides it an opportunity to take the corrective steps. But it is highly unlikely that it can or will do anything that angers the global forces of economics.

*Thinker, physician, poet, writer, author of “Economics First or Health First?”, “The Devil of Economic Fundamentalism”, “The Killer Sex”. “Islam means Peace” and “Rediscovering the Universe”, currently chair, in Yenepoya (deemed to be) University, Mangalore, Karnataka.
This article has been distributed by Peoples Media Advocacy & Resource Centre (PMARC) – Dalits Media Watch

Comments

TRENDING

Mental health: We talk of poverty figures, but not increase in suicides since 2014

By IMPRI Team Highlighting  the issue of mental health and addressing the challenges involved, # IMPRI Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC) , IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi organized a panel discussion on Institutional Support for Mental Health and Wellbeing under the #WebPolicyTalk series The State of Gender Equality – #GenderGaps . The discussion was chaired by Prof Vibhuti Patel, Visiting Professor, IMPRI and Former Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai . The distinguished panel included – Prof Anuradha Sovani, Former Professor and Head, Department of Psychology, and Former Dean, Faculty of Humanities at SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai and National Core Committee member and Ethics Committee Chairperson, Association of Adolescent and Child Care India ; Dr Soumitra Pathare, Director, Centre for Mental Health Law & Policy at Indian Law Society, Pune ; Dr Swati Rane, Founder CEO at SevaShakti Healthcare Consultancy, Mumbai and Founder V

How India, Bangladesh perceive, manage Sunderbans amidst climate change

By IMRPI Team The effects of climate change have been evident, and there have been a lot of debates around the changes to be made locally to help and save the earth. In this light, the nations met at the COP 26 conference recently. To discuss this further, the Center for Environment, Climate Change and Sustainable Development (CECCSD) , IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi , organized a panel discussion on “COP 26 and Locally Led Adaptations in India and Bangladesh Sunderbans” under the #WebPolicyTalk series- The State of the Environment – #PlanetTalks . The talk was chaired by Dr Jayanta Basu, Director, Non-profit EnGIO, Faculty at Calcutta University and an Environmental Journalist, The Telegraph , ABP . The Moderator of the event, Dr Simi Mehta, CEO and Editorial Director, IMPRI , started the discussion by stressing the talk on the living conditions of people living in the Sunderbans Delta from both the countries, i.e. India and Bangladesh. According to the report

NEP: Education must shift away from knowledge, move to teaching students

Dr Anjusha Gawande* The Education sector in the globe is changing dramatically. Many manual jobs may be captured over by machines as a consequence of multiple spectacular advances in science and technology, including the machine learning, and artificial intelligence. A professional workforce, particularly one that includes mathematics, computer science, and data science, as well as multidisciplinary competencies in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities, will be in incredibly popular. As a result, education must shift away from knowledge and toward teaching students, how to be creative and transdisciplinary, and how to innovate, adapt, and process information differently in innovative and rapidly changing sectors. The education development agenda at the global level is represented in Goal 4 (SDG4) of India's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was adopted in 2015. Ministry of Education has announced the National Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020) on 29.07.2020. In J

Dishonesty, corruption, manipulation and sustainable growth of mediocrity

By Arup Mitra* The theory of mediocrity would suggest that the meritorious who are always small in number as a nature’s gift will be dominated by a vast number of mediocre as the latter cannot withstand the inferiority they suffer from. By subjugating the merit, they derive a pleasure of having established their superiority. Such processes are functional in all spheres in life though the field of art is the worst sufferer. An artist mind is most sensitive and those who are meritorious in this lot possess exceptionally different traits. This makes them more vulnerable and, on the other hand, it paves the path of the mediocre to cast their shadows all around. Unjust and strong criticisms are sufficient to detract many. In developing countries, the modes of subjugation are many. Individuals do not hesitate to take recourse to criminal means as the subconscious prevalent with vengeance, accesses easily the outlets for execution. The lack of civility and the power of money form a unique com

Migrant problem during Covid and the role of equality for cohesive development

By IMPRI Team  The covid-19 pandemic has deepened the pre-existing inequalities across socio-economic groups, the distressing images of migrants’ exposure remained attached in our minds but not a lot has changed in terms of data collection and policy making since then to understand the role of equality for cohesive development. Cohesive development also means that human beings should respect the boundaries of nature which they cross at their own peril and the peril of other living beings on earth. In lieu to this, The State of Development Discourses – #CohesiveDevelopment, #IMPRI Center for Human Dignity and Development (CHDD) , #IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute , New Delhi organized #WebPolicyTalk with Prof Amiya Kumar Bagchi, on The Role of Equality for Cohesive Development. The session is inaugurated by Ms Mahima Kapoor, researcher and assistant editor at IMPRI. Ms Mahima Kapoor extended her gratitude to the speaker, moderator and the discussant. The moderator for the eve

Parallel govts: How unity of various streams of freedom movements took shape in India

By Bharat Dogra  In one of the most inspiring examples of highly courageous spontaneous actions based on the unity of people, parallel governments were formed by freedom fighters in several parts of India in the course of the Quit India Movement in 1942. Although generally four such leading efforts have been identified in Satara (Maharashtra), Talcher (Odisha), Tamluk (West Bengal) and Ballia (Uttar Pradesh), there were some other smaller efforts as well such as those in Bhagalpur (Bihar) and Gurpal (Balasore, Odisha). It is very interesting to see in most of these efforts (also very significant for understanding the freedom movement) that there was constant merging of the various streams of the freedom movement, with more militant activities openly taking place with the help of quickly mobilized militias and this being combined with various constructive programs emphasized by Mahatma Gandhi such as anti-liquor efforts and anti-untouchability movements. In addition we see actions in

West Bengal police inaction in immoral trafficking case of a Muslim woman

Kirity Roy, Secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) writes to the Chairman, National Human Rights Commission, on Muslim woman victim trafficking, police inaction, and need immediate rescue: I am writing to inform you about a case of illegal trafficking and profuse police inaction regarding the same of a marginalized Muslim teenager named Anima Khatun (name changed), daughter of Mr. Osman Ali. The victim and her husband had been residents of the village Daribas, under Dinhata police station Cooch Behar district since their marriage in 2014. Six months following their marriage, Anima Khatun along with her husband, sister-in-law, sister-in-law's husband as well as her in-laws shifted to Delhi in search of work. They stayed there for 2 years after which they all came back to their native village. They stayed at their native residence for about one month and then they went back to Delhi. In Delhi, Anima was in touch with her family till the next six months, after which t

Impact of climate change on Gujarat pastoralists' traditional livelihood

By Varsha Bhagat-Ganguly, Karen Pinerio* We are sharing a study[1] based learning on climate resilience and adaptation strategies of pastoralists of Kachchh district, Gujarat. There are two objectives of the study: (i) to examine the impact of climate on traditional livelihood of pastoralists of Gujarat state; and (ii) to explore and document the adaptation strategies of pastoralists in mitigating climate adversities, with a focus on the role of women in it. In order to meet these objectives, the research inquiries focused on how pastoralists perceive climate change, how climate change has impacted their traditional livelihood, i.e., pastoralism in drylands (Kr├Ątli 2015), and how these pastoral families have evolved adaptation strategies that address climate change (CC)/ variabilities, i.e., traditional livelihood of pastoralists of Kachchh district, Gujarat state. Pastoralism is more than 5,000 years old land-use strategy in India; it is practised by nomadic (their entire livelihood r

Bangladesh sets shining example of communal peace, harmony in South Asia

By Dr. Abantika Kumari Bangladesh is made up of 160 million people who are multi-religious, multi-ethnic, and multi-lingual. The Constitution of Bangladesh guarantees all citizens the freedom to freely and peacefully practice their chosen religions. Religious minorities make up roughly 12% of Bangladesh's present population, according to conservative estimates . Hindus account for 10% of the population, Buddhists for 1%, Christians at 0.50 percent, and ethnic minorities for less than 1%. As an example of how people of different religions can live together, cooperate together, and simply be together, Bangladesh is regarded. Bangladesh is a country that values religious liberty, harmony, and tolerance. Bangladesh's population is made up of a diverse spectrum of religious groupings and ethnic groups. Such communities and groups live in harmony, putting aside their differences and learning to embrace and respect the diverse and diversified culture that has contributed to Bangladesh

Political leaders' actions are causing decontextualisation of democracy

By Harasankar Adhikari In India, does democracy become a matter of prescription, i.e., to follow the footpath left? Isn't it, in some ways, the adoption of certain prescribed procedures and mechanisms, such as timely election and populist schemes for the poor, etc.? In some cases, acts of government and governance turn democracy into a myth. It is full of political party-based agendas. This continuous hegemonic practise creates a conditional situation for the people of India. People elect their representatives who are not their representatives. They are only representatives of a particular political party that nominated them in the election. Democratic decentralisation of power is undoubtedly a unique step towards the grass roots. But a Panchayat member has no free will to act without the party’s instruction and approval. Michael Saward, a political philosopher, defines democracy as a matter of correspondence in state-society relationships. But India’s parliamentary democracy is un