If the World Health Organization wanted to prove beyond doubt that it is no longer fit for purpose, it couldn’t have done a better job than to make the announcements it has made this week.
On Monday, the WHO celebrated World No Tobacco Day by giving its Special Director-General Award to India’s Health Minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan.
India has 120 million smokers. Thanks to Dr Vardhan, they no longer have the option of switching to a vastly safer substitute. The main beneficiary of the ban on e-cigarettes has been the India Tobacco Company, which is part owned by the Indian government. This should merit international condemnation. Instead, the WHO has slapped the Indian government on the back.
India is by no means the worst country to be honoured by the WHO. A few days earlier, the WHO gave Syria a seat on its executive board. Lest we forget, the Assad regime has been responsible for bombing hundreds of hospitals and has tortured, murdered and imprisoned hundreds of thousands of people during what the WHO coyly describes as a “protracted political and socio-economic crisis”.
Belarus was also quietly appointed to the WHO’s executive board at the weekend despite recently forcing a Ryanair plane to land in Minsk to facilitate the capture, arrest and likely torture of a political dissident.
We got an idea of what the WHO thinks its job is on Monday when it published new guidelines on how the most important SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern should be described. Although the agency is not squeamish about honouring murderers and dictators, it is ultra-woke when it comes to naming diseases after their countries of origin. It has developed an alternative nomenclature based on the Greek alphabet which is almost impossible to remember, but which avoids geographical indicators. For example, the Indian variant (B.1.617.2) is now to be known as Kappa and the UK/Kent variant (B.1.1.7) is now Alpha.
Nobody’s perfect, but the WHO is almost a parody of corruption and incompetence. While it embraces regimes which slaughter doctors and congratulates politicians for protecting the cigarette industry, it focuses on policing language like a snowflake student union. It is almost as if it wants to be defunded and replaced with something better. So what are we waiting for?