NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

World Health Organization Has Misplaced Priorities

April 29, 2004

The World Health Organization (WHO) is failing to deliver health benefits for all the dollars it spends, according to an analysis by the World Bank. Roger Bate of the American Enterprise Institute notes that while tens of billions of dollars are being poured into WHO to fight HIV/AIDS, the U.N. aid model that it has used for the past 50 years has failed to deliver.

  • The WHO's "Roll Back Malaria" plan established more than five years ago has done nothing to stop malaria because they will not adopt insecticide spraying -- as a result, malaria cases have increased by 10 percent.
  • The WHO has misplaced its priorities in trying to fight smoking in developing countries, while people in those countries are dying of infectious diseases such as cholera and dengue fever.
  • Last fall, the WHO announced an "obesity" initiative targeted toward efforts such as removing soft drink vending machines from school, focusing attention away from more urgent problems such as AIDS.

Lee John-Wook, the current director of the World Health Organization, prefers to focus on AIDS. In fact, his goal is to treat 3 million African AIDS patients per year, but the lack of public-health resources and political will in African countries will create a daunting task for the WHO.

Incidentally, the WHO Commission on Macroeconomics and Health is asking for $22 billion per year by 2007 in order to save 8 million lives, with an increase of up to $31 billion per year by 2015.

Source: Roger Bate, "WHO's on Last?" National Review, April 19, 2004, and American Enterprise Institute, April 19. T. Johnson and S. Stout, "Investing in Health: Development Effectiveness in the Health, Nutrition, and Population" World Bank Operations Evaluation Department. Washington: World Bank, July 1999.  


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