It is no secret there are special interests pushing taxes that single out certain items in the grocery cart under the guise of improved public health. According to an Op-Ed in the Morning Consult some of these well-funded interests are using their pocketbooks to push their personal agendas within global health policy organizations.
In his opinion piece, Steve Sherman says that bodies like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer are facing increased budget shortfalls. Looking for ways to fill the funding gap, they are turning to by private donors.
On its face, this does not seem troublesome. However, Sherman raises some serious concerns with this type of philanthropy. According to Sherman, “This generosity, however, comes with serious strings attached: private donors can effectively pay to have their own agendas taken up, thereby diluting the organization’s independence and diverting resources from other less fashionable (or less profitable) cause.”
For example, Sherman points to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s position as a WHO ambassador. Within a couple of months of Bloomberg, a major financial backer of soda taxes, being appointed ambassador, “the WHO issued a call for all countries to levy a tax on sugary drinks,” said Sherman.
The private sector, government and public health groups can all work together to improve public health around the globe but independent global health agencies should be free from personal agendas.