Thursday 19 October 2017

Mugabe: WHO Role Model Of The Month

Only last month we saw a WHO regional director holding up North Korea as a global beacon in 'progressive' health policy by banning e-cigs. However, I think this month they have topped even that.
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday appointed President Robert Mugabe as a global health ambassador for Africa to help governments tackle chronic diseases such as diabetes, stroke, cancer and heart disease.  
Mugabe, Africa's oldest ruler at 93, will work with national and local politicians to highlight the heavy economic and health burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), United Nations health agency said. 
WHO director-general Tedros Ad-hanom Ghebreyesus said Mugabe's appointment would enable governments to "strengthen our response together" to these "major public health challenges". 
NCDs and injuries are responsible for 43 million deaths each year, according to the WHO - almost 80 percent of all deaths worldwide - but the much of the premature death and disability they cause could be prevented with lifestyle-targeted measures. 
Mugabe's role will be to encourage policies aimed at reducing peoples' exposure to the main risk factors - tobacco and alcohol use, unhealthy diets and lack of exercise.
Calling Mugabe a "respected Statesman", the article describes how he is "passionate" about NCDs, presumably because he wants people to live for as long as possible. Which is quite ironic considering he massacred over 20,000 people in the 1980s. Francis Maude had this to say in 2000 following a visit to Zimbabwe.
Two things became clear in the two days I spent in Zimbabwe. First, it is obvious that the general election later this month will not be free or fair. It is being rigged. Any pretence to the contrary is misleading and self-serving. And second, most importantly for the immediate future, people from all walks of life opposed to Mugabe are in danger from violence after - as well as before - the election. 
Voters in many parts of the country have already been cowed by Mugabe's state terrorism. His thugs have kidnapped, tortured and murdered opponents from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the main opposition party. And these intense and sudden bouts of violence have served as a warning to others. 
Whites and blacks told us how units of Zanu-PF thugs have toured the country setting up mobile re-education units, where peasant farmers are corralled and then bullied or beaten into submission. People made it clear that this violence has been planned and controlled by Mugabe personally.
In 2008, Human Rights Watch was documenting further atrocities.
President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party and state security forces have sharply intensified a campaign of organized terror and torture against opposition activists and ordinary Zimbabweans, Human Rights Watch said today. Armed riot police raided the Harare headquarters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) on April 25, 2008 and arbitrarily arrested scores of people, including women and children seeking refuge there. 
“We’re seeing a major increase in government-sponsored violence in Zimbabwe right now,” said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The ruling party has been sending its allies – youth militia and so-called “war veterans” – after people it thinks voted for the opposition in last month’s election. In recent days, the army has been playing a direct role in the repression, and police have arrested people fleeing the violence. Now anyone seen as opposing Mugabe is in danger.” 
Over the past few days, Human Rights Watch has documented a pattern of increasing violence by ZANU-PF militias and the military, both in the number of incidents recorded and the brutality used.
At the same time,  The Telegraph was describing how the "death toll rises in Robert Mugabe's reign of terror before election" while the BBC was giving us "a glimpse of Mugabe terror".

But now, he has been welcomed into the World Health Organisation family by WHO director-general Tedros Ad-hanom Ghebreyesus (who has a few question marks about brutality hanging over his head too, by the way) and is currently in Uruguay as a guest of honour at the WHO's conference on NCDs. Some delegates are very excited about it all too.

As I've said before, from Turkmenistan through the Philippines and all the way to North Korea, it seems there isn't a murderous dictator the WHO doesn't like. Maybe there is something about the unaccountability and corruption such leaders indulge in which appeals to the unelected and dictatorial WHO, who knows?

Anyway, we now have the pleasure of watching on as Mugabe tells the world to stop drinking alcohol, smoking, eating nice foods and drinking fizzy drinks. Because, you see, that's the way to guarantee a long and healthy life ... except, of course, if you live in Zimbabwe. 

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