Wednesday, May 10, 2017

WHO's passing the buck

With a $4 billion annual budget, the World Health Organization (WHO) concerns itself with providing “evidence-based policy options” on public health.

Except that WHO’s actions are not quite true to its goals. Consider the three examples below.

On the subject of alcohol consumption which it recommends in moderation, WHO reports that:

[H]igh-income countries have the highest alcohol per capita consumption [and] alcohol causes approximately 3.3 million deaths every year (or 5.9% of all deaths).

On infant male circumcision which it promotes, WHO says:

Neonatal circumcision is common in Israel, the United States of America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and in much of the Middle East, Central Asia and West Africa. [The procedure] has a very low rate of adverse events (0.2–0.4%).

And on khafz, a subcategory of what WHO calls Type 1a FGM and pushes to criminalize:

Odd, right? I know. Look up all the reports by WHO on FGM. I will stand corrected if you can find any statistics on the incidence of harm related specifically to khafz.

So what does one make of all of this?

Well it’s an exercise in self preservation.

First, it takes some chutzpah to antagonize the $1.5 trillion global alcohol beverage industry with favors in many capitals that fund WHO.

Then it certainly pays off to ensure the happiness of millions of white men who want their sons to look like them. Let's just ignore the few “adverse events” (that include several cases of neonatal herpes and the deaths of two infants and brain damage to another two from Jewish circumcision in New York City).

And khafz? Well clearly people who believe in khafz are neither power brokers nor number enough to make a difference to WHO. So time for WHO to show some teeth. Never mind the lack of evidence or data, lump khafz under FGM, and call on law enforcement agencies to make khafz a crime punishable by imprisonment.

So now the onus of proving harm that allegedly results from khafz shifts squarely from WHO to the state that outlaws the practice.

Without that evidence is it too much to suggest that only teetotalers and the uncircumcised walk free?