PHM-Exch> IBFAN statement on WHO's General Work Plan

Claudio Schuftan schuftan at
Wed Nov 22 06:58:08 PST 2017

From: Patti Rundall <prundall at>

I am waiting  with Alessia Bigi my IBFAN GIFA colleague  here in the WHO
lobby to gain entry to the Special Session of WHO’s Executive Board - where
we hope to deliver the statement below.  The system for approving our
badges to get in is completely jammed and we have been waiting for over an
hour.  So much for more streamlined access!

Below is  our short opening statement. We will add a longer more detailed
statement to  this policy blog page  Click here
<>   Please share with your
government delegation.
 Click HERE
<> for
all the NGO  statements

*Meeting: *

EB Special session on the draft Thirteenth General Programme of Work

*Agenda Item: *

3. Draft Thirteenth General Programme of Work

IBFAN welcomes the opportunity to comment on the draft Programme and will
focus on WHO’s constitutional mandate and duty to protect its *independence,
integrity and trustworthiness.*

IBFAN fears that the draft plan contains suggestions that will undermine
WHO’s capacity to fulfill its constitutional mandate and core functions. We
are pleased that suggestions are still welcome, and hope this EB will allow
time for a deeper analysis.  This cannot only be about adding suggestions.

Firstly, IBFAN challenges the statement that the SDGs are *“consistent with
WHO’s Constitution.”* This assertion is justified by quoting the
Constitutional principle that the *“health of all peoples is fundamental to
the attainment of peace and security and is dependent on the fullest
cooperation of individuals and states.”*  This is false. The principle does
not justify turning WHO into an actor, a *“humble catalyst”* in an *“ecosystem
of partnerships”* that must show its *“competitive advantage”* to attract
funding and investments and be assessed along measurable impact targets.

The draft explicitly and implicitly proposes a change to WHO’s health
governance architecture, that will threaten WHO’s capacity to fulfill three
constitutional core functions:

·       To act as the directing and coordinating authority in international
health work (Art.2a)

·       To propose conventions, agreements and regulations…. (Art.2k)

·       To assist in developing an* informed* public opinion among all
peoples on matters of health (Art. 2r)

As a long-standing corporate accountability network, IBFAN is concerned
that WHO’s role in regulation and norm-setting is being reframed and its
mandate to build the international Rule of Law undermined. What does this
mean for the implementation of the *International Code of Marketing of
Breast-Milk Substitutes *or, for other urgently needed Conventions to
tackle marketing and other corporate strategies that harm health?  In its
current form, the Plan will leave even more people behind than has already
been the case – and it is these people who will pick up the cost of bad
decisions about their health.[1] <#m_8798836855512033828__ftn1>

To enable WHO to fulfill its constitutional mandate, we recommend putting
full funding of WHO on the agenda of the Special EB. WHO needs to be freed
from its dependency on “voluntary” funders imposed by the long-standing
freeze on its assessed contributions.


[1] <#m_8798836855512033828__ftnref1>
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