GAIN's application deferred in the COI debate at the WHO's Executive Board meeting

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IBFAN is delighted that a decision has been taken regarding the application from  GAIN (the  Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition) for official accreditation with WHO as an NGO 

The WHO Executive Board, meeting now, just passed a Resolution in which it: 

"DECIDES to postpone consideration of the application for admission into official relations from The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition to the Executive Board’s 134th session, and requested that the following information be provided to the Board through its Standing Committee on Nongovernmental Organizations: information concerning the nature and extent of the Alliance’s links with the global food industry, and the position of the Alliance with regard to its support and advocacy of WHO’s nutrition policies, including infant feeding and marketing of complementary foods."


See the Press Release section for our Press release on 22nd January: GAIN: Industy's Trojan Horse to enter WHO's policy-setting arena?

The Excellent News is that the Standing Committee on NGOs (which met in a closed meeting on Tuesday 22nd) recommended  that GAIN's application should be deferred.  The report was presented to  Executive Board today 29th January. 


CLICK HERE for the  Standing Committee on NGOs report. Below are the specific reasons given for the recommendation to defer:


"5. With regard to the application from The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, the Committee noted the collaboration with WHO and that the Alliance appeared to be a substantial organization in terms of its income and expenditure and human resources. In response to a question concerning its income base, it was stated the Alliance’s main source of income was the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with little revenue coming directly from commercial companies.

6. The Committee sought clarification regarding the extent and nature of the Alliance’s links with global food companies and whether those links served to influence the policies of WHO in the field of nutrition and, in particular, breast-milk substitutes and infant feeding. In that regard reference was made to a letter from the Alliance to a Member State that apparently concerned the development of alaw on the marketing of infant foods. The Committee enquired whether the Secretariat was aware of links between the Alliance and commercial companies and, if so, what steps had been taken to avoid conflicts of interest; and whether the Secretariat was aware of the letter and, if so, what its view was on the matter.

7. The Secretariat understood that it was the policy of the Alliance to enter into partnerships with local companies for the development of low-cost complementary and fortified foods for populations with inadequate protein and vitamin levels; the Alliance did not seek to develop global products. With regard to the matter of conflict of interest and the undue influence of industry on the development of WHO’s nutrition policy, the Organization had implemented policies and practices with the specific aim of effectively evaluating and managing any conflict of interest. The Secretariat was aware of the letter, which in its view was in line with WHO guidance. In this connection, the Committee was informed that WHO and UNICEF had worked with the Member State in question on the proposed law on complementary feeding.

8. The Committee noted that the Alliance provided some funding to WHO. In the view of the Committee, great care should be taken in considering relations with organizations that fund WHO. Furthermore, the Committee noted that at its current session, the Executive Board would be discussing a report on key issues for the development of a policy on engagement with nongovernmental organizations.1

9. Taking into consideration the information provided, and notwithstanding the merits of the Alliance’s relations with WHO, the Committee preferred to ask the Secretariat to obtain additional information on the nature and extent of the Alliance’s links with the global food industry, and the position of the Alliance with regard to its support for, and advocacy of, WHO’s nutrition policies, including infant feeding and the marketing of complementary foods. The Committee also recommended that consideration of the application for admission into official relations from The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition be postponed until the 134th session of the Executive Board at which time the Board, through its Standing Committee on Nongovernmental Organizations, would reconsider the application in the light of the abovementioned information."


Here are some  Links to background papers that may be useful:


CLICK HERE for IBFAN position papers


CLICK HERE for the  latest version of the IBFAN Discussion Paper on SUN. 

CLICK HERE for the Corporate Accountability International Paper  "Standards of Political Conduct for Corporations."  

CLICK HERE for the Conflict of Interest Coalition Statement

CLICK HERE for a Historical Perspective on WHO by Judith Richer. WHO Reform and Public Interest Safeguards: An Historical Perspective 

CLICK HERE for a 2005 consultancy report for WHO’s GPR by Judith Richter, Global partnerships and Health for All  Towards an institutional strategy

CLICK HERE for a booklet, also  by Judith Richter, Conflicts of Interest and Policy Implementation Reflections from the fields of health and infant feeding

CLICK HERE for GAIN's submission to the last Codex meeting - calling for claims  supplements and foods for babies (pages 7-10)

CLICK HERE for GAIN's objectives for its Gates funded Grant  ( which is to reach  500 million women and children with fortified foods.  GAIN estimates that 321 million women and children are now consuming fortified foods.

CLICK HERE for the logos of GAIN's Business Alliance Members which include Mars, Pepsi, CocaCola, Cargill etc etc. The Standing Committee report states "The Secretariat understood that it was the policy of the Alliance to enter into partnerships with
local companies for the development of low-cost "to enter into partnerships with local companies for the development of low-cost complementary and fortified foods for populations with inadequate protein and vitamin levels; the Alliance did not seek to develop global products." 

CLICK HERE for the first page of GAIN's lobbying paper attacking Kenya's new Bill,  implying that proceeding with the it would threaten "Kenya's ability to meet its commitments as a Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) country." Thankfully Kenya went ahead with the Law but the question remains it is logical for WHO to grant accreditation to an entity that is so actively and clearly  lobbying  against the WHA Resolutions.  GAIN is a member of SUN's Lead Group which claims to be a  'Government led'  initiative....

 CLICK on this LINK for the exchanges in the BMJ just before Christmas which give further evidence of GAIN's lack of transparency and how it works to undermine Governments efforts to protect child health   


IBFAN/CI Statements at the Executive Board Meeting

CLICK HERE for CI/IBFAN  statement on WHO Reform NGO policy

CLICK HERE for CI/IBFAN statement on MDGs

CLICK HERE for IBFAN's  submission about Breastfeeding on the New MDGs to the E-consultation on Hunger, Food and Nutrition Security 

CLICK HERE for daily updates on proceedings from the Global Health Watch 

CLICK HERE for the Agenda and the relevant papers including  WHO Reform (including Engagement with NGOs, WHO hosted partnerships, and WHO's role in global health governance, ) MDGs,   the Draft Action plan on NCDs  and the Advancement of women and children's health.


Agenda Item 5 WHO Reform -  among the issues to be discussed are the Development of a policy on engagement with NGOs  (EB132/5 Add2 and two papers on WHO Hosted Partnerships (EB132/5.Add1  and EB132.INF./2)

Below are some preliminary comments on the WHO policy on engagement with  NGOs. 

  1. While transparency and public disclosure of WHO’s interaction with NGOs and the Private Sector is both necessary and critical, it is insufficient.
  2. WHO must develop a comprehensive policy on conflicts of interest with criteria that distinguishes between bodies with a commercial interest in WHO policies and those who do not.
  3. Attempting to address this issue on a case-by-case basis will be subjective, insufficient and may involve substantial administrative costs. WHO and MS must establish objective criteria defining cut off points regarding acceptable levels of commercial involvement, partnership and funding. 
  4. There are now many 'hybrid' NGOs that are partnerships with business or front organisations for them. These bodies - (which we call BINGOs - Business Interest NGOs) often have multiple purposes. Alongside the public health objective they usually assist commercial companies in the creation of markets for their products.  So  the criteria must not only look at direct commercial financing but also  'mission' and the composition of decision-making structures. 
  5. Once set these bench marks can be used to frame WHO’s collaboration, consultation and accreditation process.  
  6. Such a differentiation would not preclude WHO from hearing the views of the private sector, but would ensure that all its relations and interactions with external bodies would be coherently and transparently guided by a clear policy understandable to all.  We believe that this would be  one important way to safeguard WHO's norms and standard setting processes. 














Corporate-Accountability-International-Standards-of-Political-Conduct-for-Corporations.pdf137.16 KB
CI EB132 Reform NGOs.pdf105.71 KB
B132_34-en.pdf108.89 KB
Comments Supplemenary.pdf313.95 KB
Richter Global Partnerships and health for all.pdf244.23 KB
Page 1GainKenya.pdf225.8 KB
MDG statement for CI FINAL.pdf105.91 KB
COIbooklet.pdf198.58 KB