Corporate Lobbying on U.S. Positions Toward the World Health Organization: Evidence of Intensification and Cross-Industry Coordination
This is the first comprehensive study of expenditures on lobbying of the US federal government linked to discussions seeking to shape US policy toward, funding of, and participation in the World Health Organization (WHO).
This study links corporate lobbying expenditures and coinciding public statements to legislative proposals and other actions to restrict funding to, censure, and undermine confidence in the WHO. The researchers uncover evidence of an intensifying and coordinated effort within a newly organized alliance across producers of commercial milk formulas, other ultra-processed foods, alcoholic beverages, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, chemicals, plastics, and electronic gaming. Lobbying by the coalition occurs simultaneously with tobacco interests. Targets include WHO global health initiatives to address non-communicable diseases and access to medicines, as well as WHO protocols limiting private sector participation to mitigate conflicts of interest in health policy-making processes. The coalition characterizes its activities in terms of ‘advocacy for WHO reform’ or similar. In 2021, it argued such reforms are necessary for future pandemic response, indicating use of the Covid-19 crisis as leverage.
Overall, these findings indicate corporate lobbying not only targets specific WHO processes that conflict with commercial interests, but also works to cast doubt on the integrity and narrow the operational capacities of the global health governance system itself.