WHO DG Chan Says Media Allegations Of Agency Receiving Food Industry Funding To Fight NCDs ‘Wrong’

In a statement released on Monday, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said “[s]everal recent media articles are creating misinformation and confusion in the public health arena” by “erroneously suggesting that, in working to reduce non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes, WHO receives funding from the food and beverage industry,” the U.N. News Centre reports. Referring to an October 19 article by Reuters suggesting the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) had accepted money from the industry and a similar November 1 piece by Mother Jones, Chan said, “The allegations in these articles are wrong,” and she added, “When WHO works with the private sector, the organization takes all possible measures to ensure its work to develop policy and guidelines is protected from industry influence,” the news service notes (11/19).

“However, Chan acknowledged that [PAHO] has taken money from the food and beverage industries for its NCD work,” Intellectual Property Watch reports. According to the statement, PAHO “is unique among WHO’s Regional Offices because it contains two separate legal entities — the WHO Regional Office for the Americas (AMRO) and the health agency of the Organization of the American States,” the news service writes. The statement continues, “In some areas the two entities may have variations in policy. For example, as mentioned in the media reports, in its capacity as PAHO, food and beverage manufacturers have contributed financially as part of a multi-sector forum to address NCDs,” according to IPW (New, 11/19). Chan added the WHO “does not accept funding from the food and beverage manufacturers for work on NCD prevention and control,” the U.N. News Centre reports (11/19).