April 29, 1988 | Executive Memorandum on Social Security
Questionable -too is the $40,000 budgeted for the WHO Management Committee oversee- ing the organization's "Peace Efforts"; an undisclosed amount to ope n two new offices in the Eastern Mediterranean in 1988-1989 - in Libya and Syria; and $10.6 million over two years proposed for "External Coordination," namely, public relations efforts. The U.S. and other Western countries should carefully scrutinize the se and other questionable spending priorities before committing more resources to the organization.
Regulation of Industries and Private Health Care Providers. Ile WHO long has appeared to be ideologically hostile to the private sector's role in providing health care, preferring to em- phasize public sector models and approaches, and frequently proposing stringent and harmful international regulatory schemes. A particular focus of WHO's hostility has been the research- based pharmaceutical industry. Most r e cently, WHO has been developing a so-called Revised Drug Strategy, which aims at global regulation of virtually all aspects of pharmaceutical production, distribution, and usage. This would be dangerous since such activity may detract from the constructiv e role of WHO in assisting developing countries to construct. primary health care pharmaceutical infrastructures.
Equally troublesome would be a "marketing code" on pharmaceuticals. While the WHO has not adopted this yet, many of the goals of this code are being implemented by WHO staff under the "Revised Drug Strategy" label. This includes pushing so-called medical needs criteria in drug approval, criteria which would have the effect of discouraging research into new and better medicines. The WHO thus is g oing far beyond its initial mandate to advise governments on primary health care policies and seems to be seeking a role as a full-fledged international regulatory authority. Ironically, such WHO activities may actually have the ef- fect of impeding acces s to essential drugs in developing countries.
Politicization. As in many other U.N. agencies, the grim shadow of politicization looms ever larger over WHO activities. From endorsing Soviet-inspired disarmament initiatives to injecting itself into contentio us regional issues, the WHO has shown! that even such a relatively noncontroversial subject as health care can be used for political purposes. T'he U.S. delegation to the Assembly should continue to oppose the injection of extraneous political issues on t he WHO agenda and should emphasize longstanding congressional concerns that WHO stick to health-related subjects.
Ile WHO is one of the oldest and most valuable agencies in the U.N. system. Over the years it has done exemplary work in many areas, and it co ntinues to function more efficiently than most U.N. organizations. Yet in a world confronted by a wide and dangerous tvariety of health care deficiencies, the WHO can better serve its purpose by spending its money prudent- ly, avoiding contentious politic al issues, and establishing a better dialogue with private health care providers. Tbomas E.L. Dewey Policy Analyst
For further information:
World Health Organization, "WHO's Revised Drug Strategy," Report by the Director-General, EB81/25, Annex 1, Decembe r 22,1987. Juliana Geran Pilon, "For the World Health Organization: The Moment of Truth,"Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 507, April 30, 1986.}}