Should WHO be accountable to businesses?  Responses from two of the Candidates for WHO Director General

See the Open letter  sent directly to the three candidates  published in The Lancet:

The election of WHO’s next Director General will take place on Tuesday 23rd May at  70th World Health Assembly in Geneva. IBFAN has not expressed a preference for any candidate, however, along with 60 NGOs we have written to all three to ask how they intend to safeguard WHO from conflicts of interest.  Two candidates, Dr David Nabarro and Dr Sania Nishtar,  have responded and their letters are now published in the Lancet (see links below).

Response from Dr Sania Nishtar

Response from Dr David Nabarro

The  responses are carefully worded with very little specificity and some baffling statements. For example. Dr David Nabarro welcomes the clarity that the Framework for Engagement for Non State Actors (FENSA)  brings to the role of Non State Actors (NSA).  This seems to be a commonly held view by delegates here at the Assembly.   However, despite some useful sentences such as Paragraph 45 (1), FENSA opens up new avenues for undue commercial influence and has not specified which NSAs it is appropriate to work with and/or can be granted Official Relations status. IBFAN has always maintained that FENSA cannot be considered an adequate safeguard for the world’s highest health policy setting body.
Dr Nabarro’s final sentence is also worrying: “… If I am elected I shall continue working in the same way, being accountable for my conduct and leadership to the Member States, to civil society and to all other stakeholders in WHO.”  (our emphasis)
IBFAN has been asking WHO for a  definition of the word ’stakeholder’ – with no response. If WHO is to stay true to its mandate and uphold democratic principles – is it right that its leader should consider him or herself accountable to the wide range of corporations, business associations and  philanthropic entities that consider themselves to be ‘stakeholders’?
We will continue to update the list of signatories, and an updated version is available on the Conflict of Interest Coalition blog:

(1) Engagement where particular caution should be exercised 

45 WHO will exercise particular caution, especially while conducting due diligence, risk assessment and risk management, when engaging with private sector entities and other non-State actors whose policies or activities are negatively affecting human health and are not in line with WHO’s policies, norms and standards, in particular those related to noncommunicable diseases and their determinants.

WHO: in the claws of the lobbyists?  L’OMS : dans les griffes des lobbyistes ?  CLICK HERE

Along with others who are working on WHO governance,  I appear – very briefly – (at 2.06 and 32.18)  in this 90-minute documentary  film made by the German TV company Sagamedia. It was broadcast the Artes TV Channel on 4th April 2017.  Subtitles in English French and German

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