Tuesday, April 30, 2013

World Health Organization denies my father's claim -- published last month by The Atlantic -- that the WHO supported his notorious experiments on Chinese AIDS patients

Last month I blogged about reportorial problems in a March 11 Atlantic article, The Grand Vision of Dr. Heimlich, After the Maneuver Limelight by Lindsay Abrams.

Per my item, a corrections request I submitted apparently triggered a significant re-write plus an update that included:

That updated "perspective" included:

As has been widely reported, my father's claim about UCLA is not quite true. UCLA staffers were involved, but there's no indication that the university was aware of it at the time.

But the WHO supporting infecting Chinese AIDS patients with malaria?

Zulfiqar Ahmed Bhutta, MBBS, DCH, FRCP, FCPS, FRCPCH, PhD (source)

Does this sound supportive?

Via Ethics in International Health Research: A Perspective from the Developing World by Dr. Zulfiqar Ahmed Bhutta, published in 2002 by the WHO's Commission on Macroeconomics and Health:
The recent guidelines for regulation of human experimentation must be seen in the backdrop of atrocities committed by doctors upon vulnerable subjects within recent memory. The highly controversial trials of induction of malaria in HIV patients (Heimlich et al 1997) and the trovafloxacin trial in Nigeria (Boseley 2001, Stephens 2000 & 2001) are two recent examples.

...(Clearly) unscrupulous and opportune research which exploits the vulnerability and want of a given population, must be condemned. The case of the Trovan drug trial in the midst of a meningitis outbreak in Nigeria (Stephens 2000) and the induction of malaria in HIV patients (Heimlich et al 1997) are examples where the need for ethical guidelines and minimal universal ethical standards for research becomes absolute.
So last month I wrote to the WHO and asked whether or not the claim published by The Atlantic was accurate.

In response, here's an e-mail I received this morning:

So will The Atlantic uncap the red pen again?

I'll submit another corrections request and report the results here.