Wednesday, 28 September 2016

The lies of Margaret Chan

Every two years, the WHO holds a 'Conference of the Parties' to wibble on about the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The next one is coming up in a month or two. The last one was held at the height of the Ebola epidemic which killed 11,000 people and the WHO was rightly criticised for its inept response. Tackling contagious diseases isn't high on the WHO's list of priorities these days, and why should it be when there are people in the world drinking fizzy drinks and using e-cigarettes?

On 13 October 2015, while Ebola raged in Africa, a spokesman delivered a short speech on Margaret Chan’s behalf. He began with an apology...

The Director-General sends you her best wishes for a productive session. She is fully occupied with coordinating the international response to what is unquestionably the most severe acute public health emergency in modern times.

Few would have known that she was actually attending a tobacco control meeting in Moscow from which all observers were banned.

I reported this at the time. Since then the text of her speech on October 13th has been published and it makes for interesting reason. It puts the lie to the claim that she was 'fully occupied' doing anything other than sucking up to Vladamir Putin and attacking e-cigarettes.

First, allow me to thank the Government of the Russian Federation for hosting this sixth session of the COP. I have to say, personally, I have witnessed the commitment of this government, led by President Putin himself and of course you, sister Veronika, for overcoming very tough challenges to push through a very comprehensive law to control tobacco.

The law came into full force on the 1st of June this year. I want to thank you for your leadership. Many people told me years ago this will never happen in the Russian Federation. Thank you for proving them wrong.

Speculation is a very interesting hobby for many people. Some people speculated that I would not attend this meeting because I am so busy with so many other outbreaks of communicable diseases.

No. No. No. I will not cancel my attendance at this meeting because it is too important.

I think we can put down that claim that she was "fully occupied" dealing with Ebola as a bare-faced lie, can we not?

I wonder how more lies will be told when they meet again in India in a few weeks. As journalists are banned from attending, we'll just have to wait for the transcripts to come out. 

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