USCIB is joining with other industry groups in urging the World Health Organization to improve its procedures for engaging with the business community and other stakeholders.
In February, as part of a broader reform effort, WHO’s executive board decided to conduct public, Web-based consultations on draft principles and policies of engagement with non-state actors.
“USCIB is pleased that WHO is now undertaking this process to consider how to engage with the private sector and other stakeholders,” said Helen Medina, USCIB’s director of product policy.
“In spite of the contributions that business makes to health care innovation, and the impacts of WHO norms and standards on business, WHO has traditionally maintained limited options for business observer organizations.”
WHO is the lead organization for health policy matters within the United Nations system. It is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends.
Reflecting on decades of experience in undertaking proactive engagement with other intergovernmental bodies, including in the areas of environmental affairs and product policy, USCIB encouraged WHO to follow the lead of other UN agencies in better integrating business views into its deliberations.
In its submission, USCIB noted that the private sector is highly diverse in terms of industries, company size and geographical location. Given the wide array of issues addressed by WHO, USCIB said it is essential to provide business and industry adequate representation in order to enable broad and deep engagement across the private sector.
Business and industry is vested in good outcomes for society and human health, USCIB said, and it plays an important role in addressing global health priorities. The private sector can harness its expertise to innovate, research and provide solutions in areas related to health and wellbeing. Business’s commercial activities generate employment, tax revenue and other important resources for societal and individual well-being.
USCIB said the WHO should strive for transparency, engage with business and industry as part of civil society, and take the private sector’s science-based views into account.
At the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development, UN member states agreed that sustainable development could not be achieved by governments alone. Engagement with business and industry, along with other important societal interests, is a recognized feature of many other UN bodies.
USCIB will continue to work with its industry partners to encourage WHO to follow the lead of other UN bodies in engaging business and other groups in a transparent and consistent manner, respecting good governance and transparency, and avoiding conflicts of interest.
USCIB’s comments were submitted alongside those of other industry groups, including the International Organization of Employers (part of USCIB’s global network), CropLife International, the Global Alcohol Producers Group, the International Food and Beverage Alliance, and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations.