Gates Foundation Suspected of Forcing Controversial Contraceptive on Africans

HIV/AIDS and women’s health advocates are criticizing a recent report released by the World Health Organization (WHO) on the safety of a controversial contraceptive favored by the Gates Foundation. Depo-Provera is a long-acting contraceptive distributed to poor women in the U.S. and through foreign aid programs. “Population control, unfortunately, is back in vogue,” writes Betsy Hartmann, a longtime reproductive rights proponent reacting to the WHO’s policy reversal on Depo-Provera, also known as DMPA. WHO’s revised guidelines released October 21 now mirror those issued by Pfizer Pharmaceutical, Depo-Provera’s manufacturer. It states there is “no evidence of a causal association between DMPA use and an increase in women’s risk of HIV acquisition.” This reversal, says Hartmann, despite 25 years of scientific studies citing an increased risk of HIV transmission among women using it, raises questions about whether WHO abandoned caution due to “outside ‘encouragement’” by special interest groups. Some 40 sexual and reproductive health groups and advocates have asked WHO’s Director General, Dr. Margaret Chan to sideline the new guidelines and remove it from WHO’s website until it can undergo “a rigorous consultative process” at a key meeting scheduled in December. The criticism comes as WHO faces accusations of being unduly influenced by its biggest contributors. Some 70% of donations to WHO are restricted for specific programs. “WHO’s priorities have been “distorted” and “perverted” by these voluntary contributions, said Dr. Linsey McGoey, who studies global philanthropy. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation established a $40 billion endowment for WHO. The $3 billion disbursed annually to WHO makes up 10% of its annual budget. Currently there are no major high-level policy decisions...