WHO Reform highlights the importance of protecting WHO's independence and integrity.

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WHO held a special Executive Board Meeting in Geneva 1-3rd October on proposals for WHO Reforms for a Health future.  A summary  report on the WHO website states that "The Board felt strongly that in any opportunity for engagement, WHO’s independence and integrity must be protected from undue influence by those with vested interests"   http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/notes/2011/eb_20111104/en/index.html


Excerpt from the WHO Press statement: 

The historical special session of the WHO Executive Board, repeatedly echoed the value of WHO's unique mandate as the directing and coordinating authority for work in international health and agreed to proposals which include:

  1. developing criteria for priority setting of WHO's work in global public health;
  2. engaging an increasing number of public health actors, including foundations, civil society organizations, partnerships and the private sector. The Board felt strongly that in any opportunity for engagement, WHO’s independence and integrity must be protected from undue influence by those with vested interests; (our emphasis)
  3. establishing a contingency fund for the work of WHO in public health emergencies;
  4. clarifying of roles and responsibilities between the three levels of the WHO – country offices, regional offices and headquarters – to create a tightly networked, leaner and streamlined Organization;
  5. developing an approach to independent evaluation.


Interesting excerpt (in English)from a book WHO in Peril,   written by a former WHO employee, Yves Beigbeder. 

WHO scraps forum plan amid cutbacks




IBFAN's concerns are summarised below - or click here for fuller  Comments by  IBFAN/GIFA and the Democratising Global Health Group.  


We are especially concerned about:

  1. the lack of comprehensive analysis  or ‘diagnosis’ , which would justify the need for such a massive ‘reform’.
  2. the proposal in 73 (3) and (6) that formal 'resolutions' are replaced with 'agreed conclusions'  and that discussion on any resolution is limited  to 6 instances.   Given that some of the most important issues are also the most contentious this seems to us to be a serious weakening of the Assembly's role in helping Member States move forward to defend health for all. To our knowledge, this form of policy-making is not established in the WHO Basic Documents and would be a major departure from the agency’s policies.  While we accept that there may be resolutions that are unnecessary and under used, there are many others that greatly assist Member States in pressing for safeguards to health. 
  3. there is a slight reference to a Code of Conduct in Par 86  and an  acknowledgement in para 87  that WHO faces a challenge in  engaging  "with a wider range of players without undermining its intergovernmental nature or opening itself to influence by those with vested interests."  but missing from this section is any real attempt to tspecific addres conflicts of interest.  The list of 4 principles must include a 5th principle that WHO "Must preserve its independence and integrity and that engagements must not undermine WHO's institutional mandate."  
  4. We are pleased that Para 88 dismisses the idea of the World Health Forum,  but missing from the three proposed alternative formats is  any critical analysis of the Moscow Global Forum which is presented in para 89 as a wholly positive event.   Our press release and comment on this forum can be found here: http://info.babymilkaction.org/pressrelease/pressrelease01may110

WHO has confirmed that the food industry was not invited to a recent WHO meeting to devise a monitoring framework for the WHO Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health, because they are   "not involved in the development of WHO norms and standards.  WHO has a really clear position on this, which inter alia has guided engagement with the industry on the implementation of the DPAS since it was endorsed by MS.  Thus, industry is not invited to the meeting today.  Interactions with the industry have and will continue to take place in ways appropriate to the nature of their role."


2 Rio Political Declaration on Social Determinants of Health  (Rio  21st October) 

There are three mentions of conflicts of interest in the final Declaration, which we hope  will temper the calls for collaboration with the private sector.  

For a summary and  links to the  alternative declaration see:   http://coicoalition.blogspot.com/ 

The official  Declaration is here: http://www.who.int/sdhconference/declaration/Rio_political_declaration.pdf


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