WHA 64:Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases

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Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases

WHO’s role in the high-level meeting of the UN General Assembly on NCDs   

 64th World Health Assembly, United Nations, Geneva 21st May 2011 -  the 30th Birthday of theInternational Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. 

Report by the WHO Secretariat: http://apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/WHA64/A64_21-en.pdf

Preparations for the High-level Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases, following on the Moscow Conference1




Corporate Accountability International /IBFAN


Cochrane Collaboration


Corporate Accountability International  

Statement delivered by Patti Rundall 

Thank you for the opportunity to speak on behalf of Corporate Accountability International and its partner IBFAN.

Tobacco and diet-related disease are major causes of preventable death – and both are corporate driven. We congratulate the WHO and  Member States for addressing the scourge of tobacco through the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the world’s first public health and corporate accountability treaty.

However the implementation of the Treaty is still under threat from tobacco industry interference -   an industry that shows no sign of complying with the guidelines in Article 5.3 that recognize its  fundamental conflict with public health policies. Member States must heed WHO’s call to remain vigilant if the Treaty  is not to be undermined.

But tobacco is not the only threat. If the role of private sector in shaping and identifying priorities is to be expanded Member States must ensure that policies in food and water are also safeguarded from industries with inherent and often insurmountable conflicts of interest. If Member States are to address these problems effectively they cannot waste time and resources on unsustainable, unaffordable and ineffective solutions  - bottled water, industry sponsored education, processed ‘medical’ foods claiming to cure diseases.

At the Moscow Global Forum it was disturbing to see that the Panel in the Working Group on food contained only the food industry, pushing its partnerships and voluntary, self-regulated promises as the solution. There was no one present to provide a serious analysis of the industry pledges - such as the one published in Public Health Nutrition earlier this year, which shows their limitations and inconsistencies.  I hope that such mechanisms  will not be used in the UN Summit in New York.

Finally we ask Member States to apply the safeguards in Article 5.3 of the FCTC creating clear and enforceable standards in relation to water, public health and nutrition. These measures must go beyond individual conflicts of interests, and address institutional conflicts of interest.

 An analysis of the content of food industry pledges on food marketing to children Corinna Hawkes1,* and Jennifer L Harris  Public Health Nutrition


Left wanting more: a survey of food companies policies on food marketing to children 2009





Consumers International/ IBFAN - Intervention by Lida Lhotska

Chairperson, Director General, honorable delegates,

We appreciate the opportunity to address the 64th WHA on behalf of Consumers International, global federation of consumers worldwide and an IBFAN founding member.

We welcome WHO’s objective of raising the profile of NCDs. We hope that the summit in September will empower member states to take action to support consumers in eating a healthy diet, including: protection from harmful food marketing, reformulation of foods, improving consumer information and removing the obstacles to breastfeeding.

It is of the utmost importance that nutritional standards and definitions used in policies to improve consumer diets are developed independently of any conflict of interest. Similarly the monitoring of such policies must be government-led and independent of companies, who have disproportionate power compared to WHO and many Member States. This is particularly true in the case of food marketing. Some of us have years of experience with multi-stakeholder initiatives. We have seen how health priorities are distorted when they have to be agreed by the for-profit sector. Goal posts shift towards more subtle and pervasive forms of marketing such as sponsorship – all designed to build trust and promote slightly ”better for you” junk foods. It is essential that while action is stepped up to address NCDs, care is taken to increase consumer protection and avoid giving the for-profit sector unprecedented opportunities to influence policies. The effect of insufficient vigilance will be felt most keenly in food-related NCDs - where Member States urgently need encouragement to take effective legislative action to control harmful food marketing.

We do not object to consultations with companies. We are, however, concerned with initiatives that could allow corporations to fund, guide, shape and identify WHO policies and priorities. The WHO must be able to defend the case for public health – regardless of the impact it might have on company profits - as it did recently during an EU Parliament debate health claims.

Finally, we strongly urge that the critically important role of marketing controls and the protection of breastfeeding and optimal complementary feeding is recognized as an integral component of WHO’s NCD strategy

. Thank you .


Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases 

Statement by Prof Lisa Bero of the Cochrane Collaboration

The Cochrane Collaboration is an international organisation that helps health care providers, policy makers, patients and their advocates make well informed decisions about human health care by preparing updating and promoting the accessibility of systematic reviews. The Cochrane Collaboration commends WHO on drafting a resolution relating to the prevention and control of NCDs. However we have a number of concerns. The Cochrane Collaboration urges WHO to use systematic reviews conducted by independent organisations to inform policy about the prevention, diagnosis and and treatment of NCDs. The evidence on interventions to reduce obesity and alcohol and tobacco consumption as well treating the resulting health problems must be critically evaluated and free of commercial bias. This is important for example because numerous studies have shown that clinical trials of pharmacological treatments for diabetes, hypertension and cardio-vascular disease that are sponsored by a single drug company have results that favour the sponsors product even when controlling for the quality of the studies. Therefore systematic reviews that form the basis for treatment guidelines must carefully evaluate studies of pharmacological therapy for all relevant risk of bias. As action plans and guidance for the prevention and control of NCDs are developed designed by WHO they must be informed by the best available and unbiased evidence. Thank you.







NCDs Cochrane 2011.pdf50.25 KB
CI IBFAN NCDS.pdf115.86 KB