Thanks to Greg Folkers for tweeting the link to this article in The Nation by Sonia Shah. It deserves your immediate attention: From Zika to Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs: Welcome to the New Age of Contagions. Excerpt (but read the whole article, and take notes):
What’s happened at the World Health Organization is emblematic of the way private interests have commandeered the public-health agenda. The WHO is a United Nations agency governed by top health officials from the UN’s 194 member nations. Since its founding in 1948, its signal achievements include coordinating the global eradication of smallpox and the international vaccination campaigns that have slashed deaths from measles, tetanus, pertussis, diptheria, and polio by 60 to 98 percent.
But when, in the 1970s and 1980s, the WHO targeted certain corporate practices, such as the marketing of infant formula, pesticides, and tobacco, the reprisals were swift. Wealthy industrialized countries accused the WHO, along with other UN agencies like UNESCO and the International Labor Organization, of being “politicized.” Over the following decades, the UN system was slowly starved of public funding.
In 1980, the major United Nations donors introduced a policy of zero real growth in UN budgets; in 1993, the policy became one of zero nominal growth. The WHO’s ability to stanch epidemics in the face of rising private power steadily declined.