Release: 7 May 2001

HAI Europe report highlights risks related to WHO's and others' involvement
in public-private partnerships

HAI Europe today published a report examining the public health and political risks related to public-private 'partnerships'. Based upon the proceedings of a HAI Europe/BUKO Pharma Kampagne seminar held late last year, the report evaluates the risks and benefits involved in public-private interactions and tries to determine why the trend towards partnership has developed and captured the imagination of public agencies.

To date, HAI believes too little attention has been given to assessing how these initiatives affect the health and conditions of those they are meant to help. HAI has questioned if increased interaction with the commercial sector is a major way forward towards WHO's goal of Health For All. The global network has called for WHO to demonstrate that the poor directly benefit from public-private partnerships.

In one week health ministers from around the world will gather in Geneva for the 54th World Health Assembly. There they will discuss the effects of WHO's co-operation with the private sector among other topics. During the meeting, HAI will hold a briefing session for delegates analysing the consequences of some well-known public-private interactions involving WHO. It will also call on WHO to strengthen its guidelines on working with the private sector to better safeguard the organisation's role, responsibility and reputation.

The seminar's goal was to open the debate on public-private interactions and determine some of the key issues that need to be more thoroughly examined by NGOs, public officials and health organisations to assess if such joint initiatives are a beneficial or ultimately harmful trend. There are many questions that need to be asked, and more importantly, to be answered. Critical analysis of the long-term health and political consequences caused by such public-private ventures is necessary. HAI believes civil society has a role to play in ensuring that sustainable, responsible solutions are put forward that meet public health needs and not just corporate agendas.

The report "Public-private 'partnerships': Addressing public health needs or corporate agendas?" is now available in full text on the HAI website.

For more information about HAI's plans for the World Health Assembly or to receive copies of its briefing papers on public-private 'partnerships' or increasing access to essential medicines, contact:
HAI Europe