Rich Countries Watering Down NCD Commitments To Appease Multinational Companies

In this Sydney Morning Herald opinion piece, Boyd Swinburn, a professor and director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention at Deakin University in Australia, examines how “rich countries, … particularly the U.S. and European Union but also Australia, Canada and New Zealand, … are joining forces with tobacco, food, alcohol and pharmaceutical corporations to water down commitments that might flow from” this month’s U.N. High-level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in New York.

He writes, “Since the proposed policies include smoke-free environments, restrictions on food marketing to children, increased alcohol tax and the promotion of generic medicines, those multinational businesses see them as a threat to the sales of their products,” adding, “With the help of Australia, Canada and [the] U.S., … [a] statement with commitments to tangible outcomes has long been tossed aside and been replaced with a much weaker political statement with all targets and accountability mechanisms removed.” However, Swinburn says that “if any country can provide a global exemplar for poorer countries to reduce NCDs, it should be Australia,” and he calls on the country to “show some positive leadership and humanity” (9/7).