Is WHO poised to open its governance to private commercial interests?
At the 69th session of the World Health Assembly, a possiblel adoption by Member States of a Framework of Engagement with Non-State Actors (FENSA) that does not have sufficient safeguards against undue influence from the private sector could constitute a sad turning point in history of WHO. The draft FENSA text which member states are now negotiating behind closed doors, allows “inclusion” of the private sector within the work of the WHO. If adopted in this form it would legitimize the influence of the private sector in WHO's core norm setting activities.
While the private sector and private foundations already influence the WHO, a flawed FENSA agreement would legitimate this practice and bind the organisation to allowing private sector intrusion into its activities.Among other issues of concern, the concept of Conflict of Interest is yet ill defined and addressed. Moreover, the overarching framework as it stand in the initial draft, will consider public interests NGOs, philanthropic foundations and business associations at the same level when entering into “official relations” with WHO.
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