USCIB Urges WHO to Take Full Advantage of Private-Sector Engagement

World Health Organization Headquarters, Geneva.
World Health Organization Headquarters, Geneva.

The sheer scale of global health challenges, such as the recent Ebola crises and the growing incidences of non-communicable diseases which are responsible for 60 percent of the world’s premature deaths, require everyone to be on board to address world health.

The World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations public health arm, recently issued a framework document on its engagement with non-state actors, the “NSA Framework”. USCIB and other associations are concerned that the framework is too stringent, as it would limit the WHO’s ability to fully benefit from the private sector’s practical expertise, resources and research.

Joining six other business associations whose memberships span every sector in every region of the world, USCIB signed a letter to U.S. Department of State officials highlighting the importance of strengthening private sector engagement with the WHO. The NSA Framework suggests that close engagement with the private sector would lead to conflicts of interest. Such concern is misplaced, as USCIB’s letter states:

“[T]he NSA Framework suggests that WHO engagement of private sector actors raises a unique potential for conflicts of interest, a premise that disregards the wide set of motives, including financial incentives, that drive NGO activity. In truth, engagement of for-profit entities and their representatives carries with it an inherent degree of transparency of interests that is not necessarily available regarding the motivations and interests of NGOs. Just as importantly, an examination of the motives of non-state actors is simply not necessary to an evidence-based review of the facts those actors may raise to the WHO’s attention.”

BusinessEurope, an association representing businesses in the European Union, sent a letter to EU representatives expressing similar concerns about the WHO’s NSA Framework.

Norine Kennedy, USCIB’s vice president for international engagement, energy and environment, added: “In an era where health crises become increasingly international, such as the recent Ebola outbreak, the WHO can only make full use of its leadership and resources by making global health responses a multi-stakeholder initiative in which the private sector has a vital role going forward.”

Staff Contact:   Norine Kennedy

Senior VP, Policy and Global Strategy
Tel: 212.703.5052

Norine Kennedy promotes U.S. business participation in international environmental policy and management initiatives, and works closely with industry, government and NGOs to promote sustainable development and green growth. She also spearheads USCIB’s strategic international engagement initiative, which seeks to advance meaningful business participation and regulatory diplomacy in inter-governmental organizations.
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