Time to Stand Up to Industry

WHO-on-FENSA_280pxSitting on the FENSA: WHO engagement with industry
by Sarah Hawkes and Kent Buse

Reposted from The Lancet
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(16)31141-2

 When decisions are made that will impact on people’s health, who should be represented at the policy-making table? Is it sufficient to rely upon representatives from national governments, or should other stakeholders participate—and if so, to what purpose? To advise? Make decisions? Or as funders? These questions lie at the heart of a governance debate1 that has been rancorously discussed in relation to WHO for some years. In May, 2016, the World Health Assembly (WHA) reached consensus in a resolution known as FENSA (Framework of engagement with non-State actors): “WHO engages with non-State actors….to encourage [them] to…protect and promote public health”, in which non-State actors are “non-governmental organizations [NGOs], private sector entities, philanthropic foundations and academic institutions”.2

FENSA had a difficult gestation, but is seen by many as a crucial element of WHO reform. Member States were generally supportive of FENSA, but NGOs voiced concern that FENSA will increase “problematic entanglements between WHO and powerful private sector actors”, and were disappointed that it did not “acknowledge the different nature—and thus different roles—public and private sector actors should play in global health governance”.3 By contrast, the private sector International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations welcomed the framework as giving “an equitable voice to a vibrant community of public and private organizations whose shared goal is to make this world healthier”.4

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NGOs & SDGs: Happy Together?

Blackboard_lessons_CS_GG_280pxCivil Society and Global Goals – lessons for engagement in the era of the SDGs

By Mike Rowson* on July 22, 2016

At a time when major discussions on the SDGs are ongoing at the high-level ministerial discussion on the SDGs taking place at the UN this week (as well as other global fora such as AIDS2016 and UNCTAD), researchers Julia Smith, Kent Buse and Case Gordon have published a valuable reflection on the role of civil society in achieving the global goals.

The authors acknowledge the ambitious nature of the goals – including goal three on health – and the need to engage with stakeholders, including civil society organizations, in achieving them. Those of us who have worked in civil society will recognize the facilitating roles that the authors set out for CSOs, including building coalitions, democratizing debates, acting as watchdogs and leading the transformation of health systems to make them more participatory and multisectoral. The authors in the paper highlight the role of CSOs and illustrate them with inspiring examples of change and good practice.

But how far can these effective examples line-up in the face of the scale of demands presented by the SDGs? And do the SDGs represent a good vision of the changes that NGOs should be lobbying for in the first place?

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