WHO Efforts To Combat AIDS, Malaria ‘Failing,’ Opinion Piece Says
The World Health Organization "faces a severe crisis" because its efforts to combat HIV/AIDS and malaria worldwide are "failing," James Glassman, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, writes in a Washington Times opinion piece. Although the organization has "ballyhooed" its 3 by 5 Initiative -- which aims to treat three million people with antiretroviral drugs by the end of this year -- the program is "plagued by dubious accounting" and is "shortchanging the neediest victims, those in Africa," Glassman says. WHO also has promoted the use of generic antiretrovirals manufactured by Indian pharmaceutical companies that cannot be proven as effective as the patented versions, Glassman writes. In addition, a report released last year found that the organization's Roll Back Malaria partnership has been "pushing outdated" malaria drugs that "no longer work," according to Glassman. Therefore, "[y]ou might suppose" that the 58th World Health Assembly meeting next week in Geneva would "concentrate on reforming the AIDS and malaria efforts by adopting effective medicines, stressing sound science and improving management," Glassman writes. However, the assembly instead will "be obsessed" with "politically correct matters," such as "social health insurance," providing aid to populations in the occupied Arab territories and breastfeeding, Glassman says. Instead, the assembly should "robustly oppose attacks on patents," which have "spurred the investment of billions of dollars" into the development of "powerful" HIV/AIDS medications, according to Glassman. WHO has the "potential to do much that's good, but unless it brushes aside the protectionists and political extremists, it will continue falling far short in treating the eminently treatable epidemics of the 21st century," Glassman concludes (Glassman, Washington Times, 5/11).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.