USCIB submitted comments to the World Health Organization (WHO) on February 6 stressing the role business plays in combating malnutrition and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs). NCDs are responsible for over 60 percent of the world’s premature deaths, according to the WHO.
Last year the WHO established the Global Coordination Mechanism on the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases, an intergovernmental body designed to coordinate activities and multi-stakeholder engagement across sectors as the WHO works toward implementing an Action Plan on NCDs.
“We believe that the private sector has a legitimate role to play in working with the WHO, its Members States and civil society to curb NCDs,” wrote Helen Medina, USCIB’s senior director for product policy and innovation in a submission co-signed by the International Organization of Employers, “and it wants to be part of the solution.”
The submission noted that all companies have an interest in ensuring they have a healthy and resilient workforce, and for that reason the private sector must be included in policy discussions about how to best address NCDs. USCIB reiterated its messages that self-regulation can play a constructive role, public-private partnerships are an effective response to global health challenges and taxes on various foods and beverages have negative, unintended consequences, especially for societies’ poorest consumers.
The submission also included examples from USCIB member companies of business initiatives aimed at improving global health, such as The Coca-Cola Company’s support of the “Exercise is Medicine” program, which encourages doctors to include exercise when designing treatment plans for patients. Also, Nestlé’s Healthy Kids Global Program is a partnership initiative aimed at raising nutrition knowledge and promoting physical activity among school-age children. The program reached almost seven million children in 68 countries at the end of 2013. And Pfizer has supported a pilot project in China called “Healthy Heart – New Life,” focused on developing work-related healthcare services to address chronic disease.