Critics say World Health Organization too cozy with corporate interests

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World Health Organization

A number of civil society and non-profit organizations are claiming that the World Health Organization is overly influenced by commercial and corporate interests.

At this week’s World Health Assembly meeting in Geneva, Corporate Accountability International, which represents 100 organizations from 24 countries, claims the WHO is compromising its independence and mission of improving global health. The critics say:

The group is concerned about the influence companies could have on the WHO as it implements its Millennium Development Goals, which set benchmarks for improving access to drinking water and sanitation, and the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases.

The umbrella organization delivered a formal letter to WHO director general Margaret Chan asking that the UN agency reject corporate influence and maintain its independence.

The AFP reports on another group, Council of Canadians, which contends WHO’s policy on water has favored the interest of corporations who seek to privatize many public water sources. The AFP quotes the Council chair Maude Barlow:

“The concern is that the relationship between the highest levels of the United Nations and the private water sector legitimizes the growing influence of these corporations on policy, both at the UN and at the nation-state level, which in turn promotes a private market system for water delivery and access at the expense of the public and the poor.”

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Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at]humanosphere.org, follow him on Twitter @tompaulson and/or send a comment below.