During a recent interview with Hong Kong news outlet RTHK, Bruce Aylward, a physician and senior adviser to the World Health Organization’s director general, refused to answer a question about Taiwan’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. A clip of the exchange has been viewed thousands of times on Twitter, and there are growing calls for Aylward to explain himself.
Don’t expect him to. Aylward’s behavior is just the latest in a long line of instances of the WHO putting politics ahead of good policy.
The WHO is coming under criticism for its politicized handling of the Wuhan coronavirus. Early in the pandemic, WHO’s Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, widely known simply as Tedros, praised the Chinese response to the emerging pandemic.
The WHO praised and supported China in spite of the fact that Chinese authorities had been consistently attempting to cover up the pandemic and lied about it publicly. Not only that, as National Review has documented, the Chinese punished those brave physicians who attempted to raise the alarm. As a result, what could have been a local or perhaps regional health problem became a global pandemic, the likes of which we have not experienced for 100 years.
For years, Taiwan has sought membership in the WHO, but China has blocked it, claiming the independent and democratic nation as a province. To date, the WHO has kowtowed to China, even though Taiwan has a better record on public health than the communist dictatorship.
Taiwan’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has been so effective that, to date, the island has recorded only five deaths. Long before the Wuhan coronavirus, Taiwan had a better record in dealing with the SARS and swine flu outbreaks. The WHO and its members should be learning from Taiwan, not denying it a seat at the table.
The World Health Organization Shifts Its Focus
The WHO certainly has a proud record in the fight against numerous diseases. Early in the organization’s history, when it was allowed to take a more paternalistic approach to disease control in poor countries, it recorded considerable progress against diseases such as river blindness, yaws, leprosy, polio, and malaria. The WHO ran these programs in a top-down manner, directing specific interventions, measuring progress, and changing course as necessary.
By the 1970s, however, there was a general move away from disease-specific programs and toward more holistic health programs. Additionally, the global population-control movement rose in power and influence, along with a push to limit the number of births.