A review of the initial response to the Wuhan virus by an independent panel, co-chaired by former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark, highlights that when it comes to containing global health emergencies, the World Health Organization is about as useful as a tit on a bull.
Clark’s review found that the WHO was too slow in declaring a public health emergency in January 2020, and in those crucial early weeks, when the coronavirus could have been contained in regional China, faffed about instead of galvanising itself into action, altering world leaders and showing some leadership.
Worse, the report concluded that the WHO was utterly unprepared to deal with a pandemic on the Covid scale, even though for years – decades even – there was a worldwide consensus that one day a pandemic on the scale of 1918’s Spanish flu would unleash itself on a world now interconnected by fast mass international travel.
This is the same WHO which, at the end of January last year, criticised Australia for warning of an imminent pandemic, and for rapidly closing our borders to travellers from China. This is the same WHO that contorted itself like a pretzel to avoid offending the thuggish regime in Peking, even to the extent of designating the virus Covid-19, and not the Wuhan or Chinese virus.
When it came to protecting the health of the world’s population, and the economies from which they draw their livelihood, the WHO was T.S. Eliot’s Macavity the Mystery Cat, nowhere to be seen.
Worse, the Director-General of WHO, the China-backed Ethiopian left-wing politician Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, is still in post and being billed by the likes of Harvard University as a ‘leader’ in the fight against Covid-19. But true leaders do not do nothing when it counts.
Of course, being Third World, leftist and non-white, Ghebreyesus is deemed to be beyond criticism, especially from the West. But incompetence is incompetence. If he failed to see the danger, and of his people were catatonic when they should have acted quickly, decisively and without fear of offending the pandemic’s government of origin, Ghebreyesus should go, and go now.
The WHO loves throwing its weight around where it matters little. It is happy, for instance, to preach about the ‘social determinants of health’, which is essentially the left’s belief that Western capitalism is the root of all health evils. It advocates interventionist ‘solutions’ such as sugar taxes to address obesity, ignoring the simple fact people are responsible for whatever they put in their mouths. It wants to shut down vaping as a much safer alternative to smoking by denying the accumulating positive evidence for it, and refuses to engage with anyone who does not agree with its Stalinist tobacco control mantra.
But it comes to responsibilities that really matter to mankind – and surely nothing matters more than saving lives and livelihoods from global devastation – the WHO was missing in action when it mattered most.
President Donald Trump saw the WHO for what it is, and withdrew American funding from the organisation. Regrettably, Joe Biden reversed this decision on the first day of his presidency. The Clark report, however, vindicates President Trump and cannot be ignored.
The WHO had one job, and it utterly failed.
Terry Barnes is a former adviser to Tony Abbott during his time as health minister. He edits our daily newsletter, the Morning Double Shot. You can sign up for your Morning Double Shot of news and comment here.
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