Effect Measure

World Health Organization: a primer

Over the years we’ve written quite a bit (well over 3000 posts) here and on the old site at blogger.com. Some of them have been ephemeral comments, some of them whimsical and but many of them dealing with serious topics that couldn’t be accommodated in the format of a single blog post. The ones explaining new results in influenza science sometimes take three or four installments. We’ve done a 17 part series giving a paragraph by paragraph, equation by equation explanation of a paper on mathematical modeling antiviral use in influenza for non technical readers, and another 17 parter on the basic ideas of cognitive linguist George Lakoff’s ideas and how they might (or might not) relate to health (first post here, links to the next at the bottom of each succeeding one). These long series have been failures as far as garnering a big readership but one of our motives here has always been to further our own thinking about things. All the Reveres subscribe to an adage we teach our students: “writing is thinking.”

Below are links to a slightly more modest series from three years ago that is still extremely pertinent, given the current pandemic. It was our attempt to explain what the World Health Organization (WHO) was, is, and most important, isn’t. There is a general (mistaken) impression that WHO is some kind of world governmental agency or an international regulatory body. It is neither because the “international system,” as it has existed for three or more centuries, does not permit that. The existing international system is anarchic in the technical sense, which we explain in this five parter on WHO:


  1. #1 Snowy Owl
    August 25, 2009

    After many personal contacts at WHO I am told that they are Captive of Big Pharma.

    I am not surprise tough I have work at the UN in the 80’s and came to the realization that the UN was captive of a few superpower.

    Somehow someone should shout out loud and clear that WHO should be named Big Pharma Health Organisation.


  2. #2 T. Greer
    August 26, 2009

    A very astute series. As someone whose prime interest is in the International Relations side of things, it is encouraging to see people from other disciplines include Westphalia in the explanations of their work. This is a series any member of the IR community would be proud to have written themselves.

    Keep up the good work.

  3. #3 visitor
    August 27, 2009

    This article by Michael Chossudovsky goes through and critiques the WHO, US and UK data collection decisions on swine flu reporting, relating them to big pharma interests.The H1N1 Swine Flu Pandemic: Manipulating the Data to Justify a Worldwide Public Health Emergency

    “As the pandemic progresses, the process of data collection becomes increasingly loose and unprofessional. One would normally expect the opposite, that following the announcement of Worldwide level 6 pandemic, that the process of data collection would be developed and improved as means to formulating a public health action plan.”

  4. #4 davidp
    November 17, 2009

    Thanks for pointing out this very thought provoking series. I had missed it the first time around.

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