Bush Excludes Some Private NGOs from WHO Delegation
Selection of the official U.S. delegation to this week's meeting of the World Health Assembly, the World Health Organization's governing body, has left many private-sector organizations, such as the American Medical Association and the American Public Health Association, feeling "shunned by the Bush administration," the Washington Post reports. Both groups, along with the American Nurses Association, were excluded from the delegation, which traveled to Geneva this week to discuss global strategies for health issues, including infant and child feeding, AIDS and strengthening health systems. The Post reports that the selection of private-sector groups to participate in official government business is "one of the many small ways for an administration to make its mark." Led by HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, Surgeon General David Satcher and other HHS and State Department officials, this year's delegation to the WHO meeting includes five "private advisers": Jeanne Head, the International Right to Life Federation's lobbyist at the United Nations; Nancy Brinker, a "major" fundraiser for breast cancer research and President Bush's campaigns; James Egan, former head of child psychiatry at Children's National Medical Center; Norwood Knight-Richardson, medical director of an Oregon health care system and Bush's college friend; and, William Roper, dean of the University of North Carolina Public Health School.
Although the Clinton administration also appointed "ideological soulmates" for some delegations, including the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the International Women's Health Coalition, some government officials said that such selections by previous administrations were "more the exception than the rule," adding that the "standard practice" was to seek and approve recommendations for other government agencies and nongovernmental organizations. Mohammad Akhter, executive director of the public health association, said, "I think this is setting a bad precedent. This is not what America is about. It doesn't matter who the president is. That's what has put us above all the other countries in the world. ... Now, we're like the Third World countries where they bring in their friends and make a mess of things." However, Thompson's chief of staff Bob Wood said that "the members of [the U.S.] delegation are certainly going to represent the philosophies and priorities of the administration" (DeYoung, Washington Post, 5/17).