All those who know and worry about Nestlé’s appalling record on baby foods, water and ultra-processed products were appalled to see a Tweet from the newly formed WHO Foundation,  thanking Nestlé for a donation.

Please ask WHO Director General  Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to reject donations from Nestlé and all companies who harm health and the planet.  @DrTedros

Thanks to the  Geneva Health Files who quote K M Gopakumar, legal advisor, Third World Network (TWN)  “There was no effective engagement or endorsement from the member states on the setting up of the WHO Foundation. And as a result, the Foundation has no accountability to WHO member states.” 

WHO Foundation pushes back against criticism over Nestlé donation

  • WHO is well aware that Nestlé’s aggressive and misleading marketing of baby foods has been and continues to be a major threat to child health and survival. WHO also knows that Nestlé has no intention of bringing its marketing policy or practice into line with WHO’s clear Resolutions.
  • For the WHO Foundation to accept and boast about Nestlé funding now – especially for COVID – is beyond comprehension. Nestle is currently exploiting fears of infection, promoting and distributing free formula and misleading advice – claiming that its donations are humanitarian and that they are trustworthy partners.
  • Nestlé’s harmful marketing prompted one of the longest running international consumer boycotts that was a key factor in WHO adopting the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes in 1981 – the world’s first global consumer protection code. This Code, now 40 years old has been updated by 19 resolutions of the World Health Assembly and 70% of the world’s countries have now brought at least part of it into law. In terms of reputational risk to WHO’s work on infant and young child feeding and NCDs –  this is a disaster for WHO’s integrity, trustworthiness and independence.
  • WHO is involved in Monitoring – a critically important function that  WHA Resolution 49.15 demands is transparent, independent manner, free from commercial influence. (1)


WHO Foundation’s Gift Acceptance Policy dated April 2021, has a provision for due diligence of donations. There are excluded categories designated as red (including tobacco, alcohol, and arms industries) and a orange category for which assessment is on a case-by-case basis. The policy elaborates on potential warnings on a donation categorized as orange – many of which apply to Nestlé:

I.   Actual or past, non-compliance with laws and/or regulations, for example violation of international conventions, non-compliance with money laundering, tax and corruption laws

II. Reputational issues that negatively impact the SDG agenda, notably:

▪ Contribution or promotion of violence (i.e., terrorism, armaments)

▪ Contribution to climate change or environmental degradation and destruction (i.e., Oil and Gas, Nuclear energy, Petrochemicals)

▪ Contribution to poor health or diet

▪ Contribution to violence or discrimination towards any identity group (gender inequality, #metoo-type allegations, racism or pornography)

▪ Allegations of poor corporate practice, particularly with reference to fraud & corruption, labour rights, child labour, sexual exploitation and abuse or other safeguarding issues

III. Specific industry practices that may contribute to poor human health.

(1). 1996 WHA Res  49.15:  Preambular para: “Concerned that health institutions and ministries may be subject to subtle pressure to accept, inappropriately, financial or other support for professional training in infant and child health”…urged Member States:….(2) to ensure that the financial support for professionals working in infant and young child health does not create conflicts of interest, especially with regard to the WHO/UNICEF Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative; (3) to ensure that monitoring the application of the International Code and subsequent relevant resolutions is carried out in a transparent, independent manner, free from commercial influen

For more details read this article from Geneva Health Files

“A hole in the firewall”: The WHO Foundation & WHO; “Green shoots” for TRIPS Waiver Talks?

Newsletter Edition #50 [The Friday Deep Dives]



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