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Statement of PHM at the consultation of WHO's engagement with non-state actors

18 Oct 2013


Below statement was read out during the consultation by Amit Sengupta from PHM India.

On behalf of the Peoples Health Movement, I would like to place some positions on this very important discussion.

The People’s Health Movement is a global network which brings together grassroots health activists, civil society  organizations and public health academics from around the world, particularly from low and middle income countries (L&MIC). We have a presence in around 70 countries. PHM is committed to the vision of Health For All and we see a strong, independent WHO as critical for this. The PHM is also a participant in the coalition on Democratising Global Health (DGH).

We are strongly in support of your concluding remarks after the debate at the 2013 January EB meeting on ‘WHO reform: WHO’s engagement with non-state actors’, where you said:

“There are multiple NSAs that want to engage with us, but we need to be very selective. This is also strongly linked to the policy on COI, I have asked to review the COI policy. Without transparency, and I agree with the last speaker from People’s Movement, we can't talk about accountability. I heard your comments on typology of actors, typology of interactions and risk, I will take care of this. Concerning BINGO/PINGO, I need your help, I'm prepared to make a map of all NSAs but some people will still hide information so you need whistle blowing. We're developing a risk register including ‘reputational’ risk”.

We hope that this is the spirit which will be upheld during discussions at this consultation. We urge that this meeting not become a way to legitimize the influence of private entities on normative functions of the WHO. The WHO’s constitution is clear that it has been conceived as a member state driven organization. Its relations with non-state actors should be constructed in a manner that facilitates this core character of the WHO, and not supplant the member-state driven character with one which allows space for organizations with private and commercial interests to interfere with the  organization’s functioning. The WHO is tasked with promoting health as a public good, and there is clear conflict of interest between this goal and the interests of commercial and for profit organizations.

We endorse the plea made by several speakers, including by the coalition on Democratising Global Health, that clear, transparent and rule-based criteria be developed to distinguish between for profit organizations, private philanthropic foundations and public interests NGOs. We believe that criteria need to be developed for WHO's engagement with all these entities and not just the private sector, but such criteria have to be differently conceived given the specific characteristics of each of these groups. We propose that a paper, which builds upon the circulated discussion paper, be circulated in advance of the EB meeting in 2014 that initiates the process of developing such criteria.

We are not arguing that the WHO stops engaging with the industry or with private foundations. But we would argue that it is necessary that such engagement needs to be based on robust rules and procedures that are cognizant of the interests that drive such entities.



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