Wednesday, 1 July 2020

The shamelessly corrupt W.H.O.

From the Herald...

WHO praises Scotland's 'promising' minimum alcohol pricing

The World Health Organisation has praised "robust evidence" for minimum unit pricing on alcohol, but said it must be tied to inflation for the benefits to last. 

In a report analysing the links between alcohol pricing and health, the agency said MUP is reduces health inequalities because it "effectively targets the cheap, high-strength products that drive these inequalities"

Nice of the WHO to take time out flattering the Chinese Communist Party to evaluate minimum pricing.

Except it isn't really the WHO.

Dr Peter Rice, chair of Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP) and a contributor to the WHO report, said: "We were satisfied with 50 pence as a starting point...."

SHAAP is a government-funded temperance sockpuppet that has been campaigning for minimum pricing since 2007. Why was such an obviously partisan organisation involved with an evaluation?

The WHO often doesn't name the authors of its policy-based literature, but on this occasion it has. And guess who got the gig to write this one...

The WHO Regional Office for Europe would like to thank Mr Colin Angus, who prepared this report with the assistance of Ms Naomi Gibbs, both of the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom. The WHO Regional Office for Europe would also like to thank Mr Aveek Bhattacharya, Senior Policy Analyst at the Institute of Alcohol Studies, United Kingdom, for his specific contributions and very helpful comments on the report.

Regular readers will be familiar with Colin Angus and the Sheffield University team that has been pushing minimum pricing since 2009. Angus, in particular, is a passionate proponent of the policy, although he has been known to appear in the media without his activist hat on. The whole Sheffield team is deeply invested in minimum pricing. Having produced so many models predicting that it will work, their reputation depends on it being seen to be a success. It is impossible to think of someone less impartial than Angus.

He was assisted by Aveek Bhattacharya of the Institute of Alcohol Studies, previously known as the UK Temperance Alliance, which has been the primary lobbyist for minimum pricing in England. Several other career temperance campaigners are thanked in the acknowledgements.

It goes without saying that a report authored by such people will be pro-tax and pro-minimum pricing. Sure enough, it concludes that...

There is a robust evidence base supporting its effectiveness at reducing alcohol consumption and harm, particularly in the heaviest drinkers.

This is simply untrue, and Angus has to resort to citing his own modelling studies to claim otherwise. But true or not, it is what the Dutch government - which is under illiberal new management - wants to hear. It paid for the report.

The headline from the Herald should really have said...

Minimum alcohol pricing campaigner praises Scotland's 'promising' minimum alcohol pricing

The WHO were always going to support minimum pricing and higher alcohol taxes. They have done so before. It is the sheer audacity of employing one of the most obviously biased and well known advocates of these policies to write a report about them that should worry those who think the WHO can be reformed.

There are plenty of clean skin academics who would have held their nose and written the report if the WHO had offered them enough cash. Getting "Mr Angus" to do it shows that the WHO can't even bothered to pretend. We know the WHO is corrupt and the WHO knows that we know. They just don't care.

As we have seen with the sugar tax, marking your own homework is what 'public health' does. It is a racket that has become increasingly shameless and the WHO is at the very top of it.

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