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World Health Organization

QUESTION: What is the World Health Organization?


The World Health Organization, a specialized unit of the United Nations, was established in 1948. Each May, WHO executives convene at its headquarters in Geneva. The World Health Assembly serves as the supreme decision-making body for World Health Organization’s 192-member states. The Health Assembly establishes who serves as the Director-General, oversees the financial policies of WHO, and authorizes any proposed budget programs. Any decisions by the organization’s 32-member executive board are made under strict advisement of the Assembly. Initially, authorization was given to WHO for: 1) issuing global health alerts and 2) implementing measures to prevent the international spread of health threats. In the past, WHO made remarkable strides in eradicating smallpox, monitoring polio, leprosy, malaria, cholera, and tuberculosis. Its conventions emphasized controlling the international spread of diseases by necessitating quarantine requirements.

To the concern of many, the World Health Organization now chooses another global path for its agenda. After their 1977 victory in eradicating smallpox, WHO diverted its focus from infectious diseases in the developing nations to the lucrative interests of the First World. The January 2002 issue of Reason labels the World Health Organization “a bureaucratic nightmare.” Recent financed studies and reports included such topics as blood clots in people who sit too long on airplanes and the risks of cell phones while driving. One international report suggested that anyone suffering from a severe illness or disability lives a lower quality of life than someone who is not. It’s difficult to accept allegations that 16% of the years lost in sub-Saharan Africa result from mental illness, not disease or malnutrition.

As the World Health Organization’s agenda and financial decisions continue to mutate, public concern grows. In Niger, West Africa, World Vision reports an estimated 800,000 children under the age of five are at risk for starvation. Yearly, an estimated 166,000 of Niger’s young children will die from preventable diseases. Almost 70% of Niger’s 12 million people do not have access to health services. It ranks 176 out of 177 nations as one of the poorest countries in the world. Despite these tragic statistics, the World Health Organization’s recent anti-obesity project called for “fat taxes” on hot dogs and candy. The “war on fat” crusade was praised in Geneva as preventive strategies for keeping fattening foods out of the public’s chubby little hands. Wisely, the Bush Administration won the right to amend WHO’s intentions that ignored “the notion of personal responsibility.” It appears that WHO recognized First World “love handles” as an urgent health issue.

In every society there will be the uncertainties of life that will result in those that become poor. A nation or an organization is not blinded by its prosperity. A vision becomes clouded when we desensitize ourselves from those in less fortunate circumstances. “If you help the poor, you are lending to the LORD -- and he will repay you!” (Proverbs 19:17).

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