Ahead of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) annual World Health Assembly, the world’s highest health policy setting body, USCIB submitted comments at a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Stakeholder Listening Session calling for clarity as the WHO implements its Framework for Engagement with Non-State Actors (FENSA).
Eva Hampl, USCIB’s director for investment, trade and financial services, spoke at an HHS listening session held to solicit knowledge, ideas and feedback from all stakeholders – including private industry – as the U.S. positions itself to negotiate with other countries at the upcoming World Health Assembly. She urged the United States government to ensure that all stakeholders are included in the development and implementation of the FENSA guidance.
“Under current WHO rules, business organizations like ours, and our broad international affiliates, already encounter roadblocks to observing and supporting most WHO work,” Hampl said. “We are concerned this situation could worsen.”
USCIB argues that the proposed FENSA is too stringent, as it would limit the WHO’s ability to fully benefit from the private sector’s practical expertise, resources and research. Given the magnitude and breadth of global health challenges, USCIB believes that all stakeholders should be involved in supporting the WHO’s policies.
“In our view, FENSA extends already discriminatory and restrictive practices on business, is cumbersome, lacks minimum transparency and accountability, and will set negative precedents in other [United Nations] forums,” USCIB said in a statement submitted to HHS. “It is a step backward and in contradiction to what has been the prevailing international trend by governments and inter-governmental bodies toward innovative and enhanced engagement with private sector entities to advance sustainable development.”
USCIB called on U.S. negotiators headed to the World Health Assembly to push for a resolution that reflects the need for positive measures that invite and enable public-private partnerships to advance WHO’s mission.