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Opinions: U.S. Global Health Initiative; WHO And H1N1

U.S. Isn’t Backing Off Its Commitments To International Health

President Barack Obama’s FY2011 budget demonstrates that the U.S. “isn’t backing off its commitment to aid other nations,” according to a VOA News editorial by the U.S. government. “Specifically, President Obama is proposing to boost U.S. efforts to promote health and well-being in developing countries. One major initiative aims to help other nations develop strategies to increase food production. As part of a new emphasis on global health, the president’s budget will also devote new funding to reduce the number of mothers and infants who die each year from complications of childbirth or pregnancy, poor nutrition, and malaria, tuberculosis, pneumonia and polio,” according to the editorial, which adds that HIV/AIDS “remains the cornerstone of the global health strategy.”

“By adopting a new and expanded approach to its international health assistance programs, the U.S. hopes to both reduce disease and leave behind more sustainable public health systems through which partner nations can provide better care for their people,” according to the editorial (2/9).

WHO Made H1N1 Into A Political Pandemic

The WHO’s handling of H1N1 (swine flu) “wasn’t merely overcautiousness or simple misjudgment. The pandemic declaration and all the Klaxon-ringing since reflect sheer dishonesty motivated not by medical concerns but political ones,” Michael Fumento – director of the nonprofit Independent Journalism Project, where he focuses on health and science issues – writes in a Forbes opinion piece. In the article, Fumento argues that the WHO deliberately created worldwide concern about H1N1 even though the agency knew it was not severe.

According to Fumento, the agency’s handling of H5N1 (avian flu) is part of the reason why it hyped H1N1. “The agency was losing credibility over the refusal of avian flu H5N1 to go pandemic and kill as many as 150 million people worldwide, as its ‘flu czar’ had predicted in 2005.” He also points to WHO Director-General Margaret Chan’s intentions. “Chan said ‘ministers of health’ should take advantage of the ‘devastating impact’ swine flu will have on poorer nations to get out the message that ‘changes in the functioning of the global economy’ are needed to ‘distribute wealth on the basis of’ values ‘like community, solidarity, equity and social justice'” (2/5).

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