- William R. Steiger
Steiger graduated in 1987 from the St. Albans School for Boys and in 1991 from
Yale University, where he majored in history. He earned a Ph.D. in Latin American History at U.C.L.A.[http://www.globalhealth.gov/office/steigerbio.html Steiger's official biography] on the HHS website.] He is a fluent Spanish and Portuguese speaker.
Controversies have included:
*May 22, 2008 - NRC Handelsblad (a Dutch newspaper) reports that the director of the United States Department of Health and Human Services's Office of Global Affairs, is blocking the acceptance of a resolution condemning the practice of female circumcision during this year's General Assembly of the
WHO. The article states that, when it comes to international policy, Steiger has the power to overrule the Secretary, and that, rather remarkably, the United Statesare the only country in the WHO unwilling to accept this legally non-binding resolution, even though the official U.S. position is that it also strongly condemns the practice. When asked, Adrien Germain (member of the NYC-based lobby group IWHC) states that 'Steiger wants to change a clause mentioning 'reproductive health', an umbrella term supposedly implicitly referencing the condonation of practices such as abortion'. Germain further reports that Steiger has tried and failed to find support from Catholic and Islamic countries, but so far even countries such as Libyaand Egyptare in favor of the resolution. Germain says: "It's maddeningly shameful. This is the White House's policy, not the DHHS's. Steiger has to keep the conservative right happy for political reasons. For seven years now, he has been on these kinds of crusades. Whatever Steiger does, he has the continued support of the White House because of his connection to the Bush Family." Among the things he did 'get done', the article reports, were blocking an UNHCR aid package for female rape victims in Kosovo, a 'precaution, as abortion is legal in Kosovo', ensuring Global Funddoes not spend any of its funding on the distribution of condoms, and mandating that 1/3 of the funding is spent on Abstinencecampaigns. At the 2005 WHO meeting, he tried to ban an abortifacientlegal in the USA themselves, and he made the decision that the USA was no longer going to financially support the UNFPA.NRC Handelsblad, May 22, 2008, 'buitenland' section, article 'Vrouwenbesnijdenis en het petekind van Bush']
*July 29, 2007 - The
Washington Postreported that Steiger blocked then Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona's report "Call to Action on Global Health." The report linked deteriorating global health with escalating social ills and violence. The report said, "we cannot overstate . . . that problems in remote parts of the globe can no longer be ignored. Diseases that Americans once read about as affecting people in regions . . . most of us would never visit are now capable of reaching us directly. The hunger, disease, and death resulting from poor food and nutrition create social and political instability . . . and that instability may spread to other nations as people migrate to survive." At a July 10 House committee hearing, Carmona stated he was called in to Steiger's office and told "You don't get it...this will be a political document, or it will not be released." In a statement, Steiger confirmed that he disagreed with Carmona's report: "A document meant to educate the American public about health as a global challenge and urge them to action should at least let Americans know what their generosity is already doing in helping to solve those challenges." [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/28/AR2007072801420.html?nav=hcmodule Bush Aide Blocked Report] , Christopher Lee and Marc Kaufman, The Washington Post, July 29, 2007.]
* Steiger severely criticized a World Health Organization (WHO) report on nutrition as scientifically flawed. The report was also opposed by many industry groups, making Steiger's criticism appear politically motivated. The WHO was further upset because the Department of Health and Human Services said it would choose which U.S. scientists WHO could invite as expert advisers. [ [http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/305/5690/1552 SCIENCE POLICY: The Man Behind the Memos] , Jocelyn Kaiser, Science, September 10, 2004, Vol. 305. no. 5690, pp. 1552 - 1553]
*In April 2004 it was reported that
Denis Aitken, Assistant Director-General of the World Health Organization(WHO), received a letter from Steiger stating that all WHO requests for scientists to participate in its meetings be sent to Steiger's office. The WHO, the United Nations' leading health agency, has always directly invited scientists. In his letter, Steiger wrote "Except under very limited circumstances, U.S. government experts do not and cannot participate in WHO consultations in their individual capacity," and that civil service and other regulations "require HHS experts to serve as representatives of the U.S. government at all times and advocate U.S. government policies." However, the system has mainly been used as a way to better gauge which U.S. Government Technical Experts are attending which meetings and Steiger's office generally left the individual scientist to plan their travel.
Politicization of science
* [http://www.globalhealth.gov/office/steigerbio.html Steiger's official biography]
* [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/nation/documents/CTAGlobalHealthdraft.pdf Call to Action on Global Health] , unpublished draft report of Surgeon General Richard Carmona.
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