What is WHO Up To?

first_imgThe World Health Organization (WHO), within days after we received the alarming news of a renewed Ebola outbreak in Guinea, issued an announcement downgrading an “Ebola health risk” in the three affected countries in the Mano River basin—Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.This announcement came as the editors of this newspaper, Daily Observer, had just completed an Editorial urging Liberia’s Health Ministry (MOH) to be on a vital “high alert” at the Liberia-Guinea and other borders. The editors had to adjust the editorial to reflect the WHO announcement, while yet stressing the need for the MOH to deploy an emergency team and preventive health and medical supplies. These included Clorox-supplied buckets and thermometers to Liberia’s borders with Guinea, to ensure that everyone crossing is checked, with hand washing, temperature taking and other procedures strictly enforced.A day or two later the Guinea government announced that the persons who had died had been affected not by Ebola, but by having drunk lizard-poisoned water. Shortly following that new announcement by Guinea, both sides of the border were opened. Our Nimba correspondent Ishmael Menkor, in his dispatch reporting the border reopening, noted with alarm that people were crossing the border at will, with no hand washing or temperature taking being observed. That was the reason for our Thursday Editorial, “MOH High Alert Vital at Liberia-Guinea Borders.”We know of no investigation by WHO of Guinea’s original announcement last week of a renewed Ebola outbreak in their country. All we know is that following that country’s reversal later that same week, that no, it was not Ebola, but lizard poisoning that killed the three people. Yet WHO, without any investigation that we know of, declared the three worst affected countries—Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone—“downgraded Ebola health risks.” That statement by WHO baffled many people, especially in Liberia, who wondered how the Organization, without first investigating the situation in Guinea, was able to come up with such a sweeping announcement clearing the three countries of Ebola.Is it not very surprising then, that two days following the WHO clearance of the three countries, Liberia reported that a 30-year-old woman died of Ebola later that same week, and that her immediate community in Jacob Town, Paynesville had been quarantined? A senior medical practitioner, in the business for well over 40 years, told the Daily Observer last week he strongly believed that the three countries are in this Ebola affliction for the long haul. He listed three primary reasons: first, because big money is involved—in the billions of United States dollars; second, all these vaccine trials, being undertaken by Western nations, including the USA (Centers for Disease Control—CDC); France and Germany; and thirdly, the WHO itself knows about all this and is very much part of the scheme.That, said this medical doctor, is the main reason it took WHO so long to respond to the first Ebola outbreak in the Mano River basin two years ago. So it became evident that WHO’s delay was not simply a matter of ineptitude (incompetence). The delayed reaction may have been deliberate—let the Ebola sting hit so hard that the money to be made proceeds and the stage set for the urgency of the vaccine trials.We hope and pray that this is not the case. We hope, too, that the conspiracy theories, published by several scientists, notably Dr. Cyril Broderick, a plant pathologist, are not true—that certain nations, notably the USA and its Pentagon or defense establishment—are NOT developing this deadly virus as a weapon of war.Surely these three worst affected countries—Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone—are definitely NOT at war with the USA and can never be! So it is entirely implausible (unlikely, farfetched) that such a scenario would be at play.It is also our prayer that WHO and all others concerned will take this Editorial seriously and do whatever they can to keep this deadly Ebola menace far from the Mano River basis—or anywhere else—because it is not good for any country. The consequences are too ghastly (horrifying, terrible) to contemplate. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Feds pledge money for young scientists but funding for inhouse research slips

first_imgOTTAWA — Science Minister Kirsty Duncan is making good on a promise to help young researchers who are trying to establish themselves in their fields.But the Liberals’ promised commitment to run a government that believes in science hasn’t led to funding research within the government itself, a watchdog group says.Duncan is at the University of Toronto this morning, where she’s detailing plans to spend $210 million over the next five years to expand the Canada Research Chairs program. The money was promised in last February’s federal budget and will include new grants of up to $20,000 to help emerging scientists get their research projects off the ground.Another 285 research chairs will be created with the funding, which government documents suggest will start with an additional $25 million this year and grow to $50 million a year by 2022-23. In the budget, the stated aim was that 250 research jobs would be created specifically for scientists in the early stages of their careers. Duncan’s office hasn’t yet provided details about how that target is to be met.The budget also promised the money would be used to diversify the recipients, with more women, visible minorities, Indigenous people, and people with disabilities nominated, but no details on that are available yet either.Improving diversity, particularly to get more women appointed to research chairs, has been one of Duncan’s priorities. In 2017 she threatened to cut universities off from future grants under the program if they didn’t start nominating more women.The threat worked. In September, 41 per cent of the nominations universities made for the latest round of chair appointments were women. The number of female research chairs has increased from about one in four in 2009 to almost one in three today.Katie Gibbs, executive director of Evidence for Democracy, which argues for the use of science in policymaking, said the government’s budget commitments are now more than half of what was urged in a review in 2017.“It’s definitely a big investment. Not hugely transformational but a solid investment. I think overall it made the research community quite happy,” she said.She said there is grumbling among researchers that the extra funds for granting councils that distribute money to academic researchers for particular projects — a promised $925 million between now and 2023 — are not flowing yet, and there are still gaps in covering the ongoing operating costs of labs.But Gibbs said the biggest concern is that the government’s own scientific work is still flailing. Overall Canada’s spending on science is up almost 10 per cent since the Liberals took office but spending on in-house research is actually down.Environment and Climate Change Canada, Health Canada, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, Natural Resources Canada and Statistics Canada are among 18 departments whose internal budgets for scientific research are lower today than almost a decade ago.The federal Conservatives took heavy criticism from the scientific community for cutting science jobs and funding, and accusations were made that government scientists were kept from speaking publicly about their research unless explicitly given permission from political authorities.Gibbs said the Liberals have loosened the muzzle somewhat but funding for government science has not been restored.The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada says spending on science done by the government for 2018-19 is $112 million less than the Conservatives spent in their final year in office. The institute, the largest union representing professionals in the civil service, including scientists, said research-and-development funding for government scientists is almost $900 million less in 2018-19 than it was in 2010-11.In 2016, the last year for which statistics are available, Canada ranked 21st out of 27 developed countries whose science spending is tracked by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.Mia Rabson, The Canadian Presslast_img read more