Professor Simon Chapman, who is quite famous for not shying away from a stoush when public health interests are at stake, is fired up over news that Bill Gates is hooking up with a tobacco industry leader. He writes:
“Recently, to much applause from the international tobacco control community, the Gates Foundation withdrew tobacco control funds from a Canadian governmental development organization, the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), because Barbara McDougall, formerly of Imperial Tobacco Canada, was now the IDRC chair.
It has just been announced that Gates has joined with the world’s richest man, Carlos Slim, to improve basic preventive health care to poor people in southern Mexico and Central America.
Carlos Slim is on the board of Philip Morris International.
I have previously questioned how someone with a fiduciary duty to maximise profitability to the world’s largest tobacco company can be taken seriously when they say they are concerned about health, when tobacco use of course is the single most important cause of ill-health globally. (See here for an article in Tobacco Control titled, International tobacco control should repudiate Jekyll and Hyde health philanthropy, and here for a letter in The Lancet and subsequent exchanges.)
I now again ask the same question again, and also would like Bill Gates to explain why he withdrew money from the IDRC but is happy to partner with Slim in this way.”