1 Evidence and Programme Guidance, Department of Nutrition for Health and Development, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.
The Comprehensive implementation plan on maternal, infant and young child nutrition was endorsed by Member States in the World Health Assembly (WHA) in 2012 (1). The Plan includes a series of priority actions to be jointly implemented by Member States and their partners to achieve six global nutrition targets in maternal and child nutrition by 2025 (1). The World Health Organization (WHO) supports the strengthening of the evidence base for these actions as well as the development of updated guidance in different nutrition areas, including the provision of vitamins and minerals to different age groups through fortification of staple foods, targeted supplementation, management of acute malnutrition, and the prevention of obesity and diet-related noncommunicable diseases. During the 65th WHA in 2012, Member States requested WHO to ‘develop risk assessment, disclosure and management tools to safeguard against possible conflicts of interest in policy development and implementation of nutrition programmes’ (WHA65.6) in order to assist Member States when engaging with non-State actors in a transparent and ethical manner (2). This request coincides with the WHO’s efforts to review its own Framework of engagement with non-State actors (3). These efforts are in line with the Organization’s leading role in global health governance, which requires engagement with non-State actors that play a critical part in supporting the fulfilment of WHO constitutional mandate. In order to meet the WHA request, the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development in WHO, in collaboration with internal partners, is carrying out the following actions: (a) mapping the issues regarding management of both perceived and real conflicts of interest in nutrition including the different types of interactions and the various roles of non-State actors; (b) reviewing the models of global governance and management of conflicts of interests with a focus on those addressing nutrition interventions in public health; and (c) identifying successful and unsuccessful casestudies from low-, middle- and high-income countries in order to coordinate a consultative process towards a coherent response to this need. In accordance with WHO principles, guidance to Member States aims at providing a set of practical solutions to prevent, identify, manage and monitor conflicts of interests when engaging with non- State actors as well as at fostering the ethical use of their resources including, knowledge, expertise, commodities, personnel and finances. Clear guidance on conflict of interest management will contribute to successful policy development and effective implementation of nutrition programmes aiming to achieve wellbeing, health and sustainable development of populations worldwide.