Thursday 20 September 2018

Why are we giving the WHO so much cash?

From the Express...

British taxpayers 'should not subsidise scaremongering anti-vaping laws'

British taxpayers should no longer subsidise “scaremongering” anti-vaping laws advocated by the World Health Organisation, consumer champions said tonight.

It includes a quote from my good self...

Christopher Snowdon, head of lifestyle economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said: “The WHO’s scaremongering stance on e-cigarettes is at odds with the British Government’s evidence-based position.

“The UK taxpayer is paying through the nose to support this prohibitionist organisation. So far, the Department of Health has been unable to turn our money into influence. It is now time to get tough. Unless the WHO withdraws its support for the prohibition of vaping, the government should withdraw its funding.”

The idea of defunding - or even threatening to defund - the World Health Organisation may trouble some people. After all, it has done great things. And yet its past achievements all involve communicable diseases whereas the 21st century WHO is obsessed with the first world problem of 'lifestyle-related' diseases which are neither as pressing nor as easily preventable - and which are certainly not preventable by clamping down on vaping.

It seems to me perfectly reasonable to threaten to withdraw funds from this organisation until it (a) gets back to its primary function of tackling contagious disease, (b) removes the dark cloud hanging over its transparency and financial affairs, and (c) embraces science on harm reduction.

The UK has the motive and method by which to do this. We pay a staggering amount to the WHO compared to other countries. Check out its list of donors here.

In the 'general fund', the typical amount donated by a reasonably-sized, rich country is $10-30 million. France gives $13 million. Italy gives $10 million. Switzerland gives $11 million. Sweden gives $27 million. Korea gives $26 million.

A handful of countries give more than that. Canada gives $34 million. Norway gives $41 million. Japan gives $47 million. Germany gives $90 million, but Germany is the third biggest donor.

The biggest donor is the USA with $401 million but the UK, which has a smaller population than Germany and a population that is barely a fifth of the USA, is second with £163 million.

We must hope that some of the general fund is spent treating the sick and preventing infectious disease in the world's poorest countries, but that is certainly not how the WHO's money for tobacco control is spent. It is all advocacy, conferencing and nice hotel rooms. The Secretariat of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control had an income of $5.1million in 2017. The split between countries is quite striking because there are only three of them: Australia, Panama and the United Kingdom. And guess who is paying for 72 per cent of it?

That's right: the British taxpayer - to the tune of $3,697,792.

Presumably this is the £15 million (to be spread over five years) gifted to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control by the Department of Health civil servant Andrew Black in 2016.

Shortly after this generous use of other people's money, Andrew Black got a job with the, er, WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Fancy that!

Leaving aside the happy coincidences of Andrew Black's well remunerated career, you'd think that £15 million to the WHO's anti-smoking programme, plus annual contributions of £163 million and several other commitments, would give Britain the kind of 'soft power' that would allow it to make modest demands such as getting the WHO to stop saying that prohibition is an acceptable response to vaping, wouldn't you?

But apparently not, because the WHO's current position on vaping is to recommended 'prohibition or restriction of the manufacture, importation, distribution, presentation, sale and use' of e-cigarettes. That's right: prohibition.

Until the WHO stops recommending fecking prohibition for an effective substitute for smoking, it's reasonable to stop giving it cash, right?

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