Friday, October 07, 2005

William R. Steiger

William R. Steiger is the Department of Health and Human Services' "point person for international health" and is presumably a key person in the internatinal meeting on Avian Flu starting today in Washington (see previous posting). He has held the position of Director of the HHS Office of Global Health Affairs for some time. According to his official biography, "Dr. Steiger was previously Education Policy Advisor for Wisconsin Governor Tommy G. Thompson. His portfolio included finance and policy matters for primary, secondary, university, and technical education in the state." He seems to be trained in education rather than public health, with little previous international experience.

According to a news story in Science magazine last year, "Steiger, 34, a political appointee who has close ties to the Bush family." The article noted, that "when HHS clamped down on foreign travel by its scientists, Steiger began personally approving each trip. When industry groups criticized a World Health Organization (WHO) report on nutrition, Steiger slammed it as scientifically flawed. When the department declared that it would choose which U.S. scientists WHO could invite as expert advisers, Steiger signed the memo." (Another source identifies Steiger as George H.S. Bush's godson.)

In April 2004, Steiger, according to another report, "wrote government scientists informing that they must receive pre-clearance by his office to act as consultants in meetings of the World Health Organization. As a condition of their employment with WHO, scientists must agree to advocate U.S. policy. A Health and Human Services (HHS) spokesperson defended the decision stating, 'No one knows better than HHS who the experts are and who can provide the most up-to-date and expert advice.' But Dr. D.A. Henderson, an epidemiologist who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002 and acts as an advisor to HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, stated, 'I do not feel this is an appropriate or constructive thing to do. In the scientific world, we have a generally open process. We deal with science as science. I am unaware of such clearance ever having been required before.'"

Sharon Hrynkow, acting as director Fogarty International Center at NIH, is reported in 2004 to have sent the following to NIH staff:
"NIH has been instructed by the Office of the Secretary, Office of Global Health Affairs, that travel of NIH staff to U.N. international organizations located in the United States is to be considered foreign travel, thus requiring ICs [institutes and centers] to submit [Notifications of Foreign Travel] per the usual process,"

The World Bank, the Pan American Health Organization, UNICEF, the United Nations Development Programme and other U.N. organizations were covered by the dictum.

When I worked in the Office of International Health, which eventually became the Office of Global Health Affairs, it was headed by the then Acting Surgeon General, and lead by public health professionals with distinguished careers in international health. I would feel more confident if the U.S. effort to energize the world against Avian Flu were headed by such people today! This does not seem to be the case, however.

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Anonymous said...

Steiger has just been nominated as U.S. Ambassador to Mozambique.

John Daly said...

This article from Media News Wireappears to be a confirmation of the anonymous posting: "The President intends to nominate William Raymond Steiger, of Wisconsin, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Mozambique. Dr. Steiger currently serves as Special Assistant to the Secretary for International Affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services. Prior to this, he served as an Education Policy Advisor in the Office of the Governor for the State of Wisconsin. Dr. Steiger received his bachelor's degree from Yale University, his master's degree and PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles."

Anonymous said...

More evidence of how the Bush/Cheney/Rove administration is hell bent on "fixing" the news through their cronies...lying, decit and downright evil. Bush's evil empire has misled the American people for the past six years and will continue unabated.

Anonymous said...

this stieger guy is a joke. read this:

another republican idiot - my god where do they come from and why can't we ship them to iraq?

John Daly said...

Unfortunately, we did ship a lot of them to Iraq where they ran the Coalition Transition Authority. They screwed up royally there too, and the Iraqis are paying the price, as are the Coalition troops and many others!

John Daly said...

This from Wikipedia's entry for Mr. Steiger: "Steiger is the son of the late Congressman William A. Steiger (a Republican who represented the 6th District of Wisconsin) and the late Janet Dempsey Steiger, former Chair of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, and the godson of former President George H.W. Bush."

John Daly said...

And still more on Steiger's more recent activities.