Is the World Health Organization Reliable?

Wednesday's Example of Media Bias   —   Posted on September 15, 2010

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Directions

-Read the excerpt below from the "Best of the Web" post by OpinionJournal.com's editor James Taranto (original post date 5/3/10).
-Read "Types of Media Bias" in the right column. Then answer the questions.

This is from Reuters…:

North Korea’s health system would be the envy of many developing countries because of the abundance of medical staff that it has available, the head of the World Health Organization said on Friday.

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, speaking a day after returning from a … visit to the reclusive country, said malnutrition was a problem in North Korea but she had not seen any obvious signs of it in the capital Pyongyang.

North Korea–which does not allow its citizens to leave the country–has no shortage of doctors and nurses, in contrast to other developing countries where skilled healthcare workers often emigrate, she said.

Reuters also notes–seriously, we are not making this up–that Chan found no signs of obesity among North Koreans. “News reports said earlier this year that North Koreans were starving to death,” the wire service deadpans in response.

Recently a reader sent us a 2007 New York Times editorial purporting to debunk the “delusion” that America has the best health-care system in the world. Among the paper’s evidence: “Seven years ago, the World Health Organization made the first major effort to rank the health systems of 191 nations. France and Italy took the top two spots; the United States was a dismal 37th.” The Times didn’t mention how the [North Koreans] did, but remember Margaret Chan’s stunningly fatuous comments the next time someone cites [the] WHO as an authority.

Read the original post at OpinionJournal.com. (Scroll down to the second excerpt “Fooled Again”)

Questions

1. Define fatuous.

2. The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health. The WHO’s constitution states that its objective “is the attainment by all people of the highest possible level of health .” Its major task is to combat disease, especially key infectious diseases, and to promote the general health of the people of the world. (from wikipedia)
Do you think that the Reuters’ report on the WHO Director displays bias?  Explain your answer.


Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the answers.
























Answer(s)

1. fatuous – complacently or inanely foolish: silly (from merriam-webster.com/dictionary)

2. Opinion question. Answers vary.