Battelle- military contractor and “global health organization?” Really?

Battelle

Battelle Memorial Institute? No.

Not if you believe global health is for all people. War is pretty much the opposite of global health.

The Washington Global Health Alliance (WGHA)  was formed in 2007 with money from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to connect the many organizations in Washington State that work on global health. It lists Battelle as a “Global Health Organization” in the alliance.

The mission of the Washington Global Health Alliance: “WGHA invites and activates every sector in our region to advance global health equity.” Every sector?

The core objectives:

1. Mobilizing the dynamic global health sector to increase visibility and impact

2. Advocating and educating lawmakers and business leaders about the importance of global health for our economy, international relationships and communities (Missing that serial comma….)

3. Cultivating global health champions through innovative partnerships among traditional and unexpected organizations and people to expand impact

“Unexpected organizations?”

It may sound pretty good to get all sectors of academic, business, and civil life to agree that the health of everyone across the globe is a variety.  It sounds reasonable that any participant that will help with advancing global health equity is welcome at the table. We all know that businesses and academia and civic leaders are so bound up in political and economic maneuvering as well as with each other that looking for only the purest of organizations would lead to an alliance of none.

But somewhere, you have to draw a line in order to make your mission clear, and drawing the line on organizations that profit through making weapons and advancing war seems an obvious boundary.

Battelle is the world’s largest non-profit independent research and development organization (though is also has Battelle Ventures, L.P., and its affiliate fund, Innovation Valley Partners that invest in early stage tech companies). Based in Ohio, it has 130 locations around the world.

It does everything.

Battelle has four global businesses: Health and Life Sciences, National Security, Energy Technology, and Laboratory Management. Many scientists know of them  as they oversee 7 national (USA) laboratories for the U.S. Department of Home Security and the U.S. Department of Energy and 2 overseas laboratories. They promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education for K-12 schools through programs at the National Labs, and through working with groups on the next generation science standards and common core.They do public health and global health projects, have done so with CDC, NIH, running programs, coordinating data, doing epidemiologic surveilling through their 7 Centers for Public Health Research and Evaluation, one of which is located in Seattle.

So, it would seem that being in the Washington Global Health Alliance makes a lot of sense.

But there is another side to the monolithic Battelle- it is the 26th largest (in revenue) military contractor in the USA, with almost 25% of its 2013  annual revenue being for defense. It has received over 3 billion dollars from military contracts since 1990. It does projects on advanced weapons, enrgetics/expolosive operations, missile defense, and weapons development as well as  its biological and chemical defense work.

90% of people killed in war are civilians. The best thing Battelle could do for public health is to stop its defense contractor business. The best thing the Washington Global Health Alliance could do is remove Battelle from the rolls of global health organizations.

 

 

 

 

 

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