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Civil society movement calls for transparency in the WHO director-general elections

The non-transparent process currently taking place to select the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) is unacceptable, say the People's Health Movement (PHM) - a worldwide network of individuals and civil society organisations - in a Viewpoint published online today (Tuesday October 24, 2006) by The Lancet.

WHO is the world's leading global health agency. The election for a new Director-General to head the organisation is currently underway. A shortlist of 13 candidates running for this position was released by WHO in early September with little or no public discussion amongst the health community. "The final selection will be the result of opaque power brokerage involving 34 members of the Executive Board. Behind closed doors, they will interview and then select from a shortlist," writes David McCoy and colleagues in their Viewpoint. They add that the criteria used to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the candidates and how they scored will not be made public.

To encourage a more transparent process for the final selection of the position, PHM has asked all candidates to respond to a set of questions*. These include:

  • How will you counterbalance the disproportionate effect of the governments of rich countries, particularly the USA, on policy development in WHO?

  • How will you ensure that WHO plays a more assertive role in protecting public health interests in the face of trade agreements (e.g. the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) that seem to be harmful?

  • What steps would you take to ensure that WHO is able to resist pressures from corporate interests and their allies for WHO to adopt a weaker position on health promotion and protection?

PHM is also compiling profiles of the candidates to facilitate a more public examination of their strengths and weaknesses. Their move follows on from The Lancet's attempts to increase transparency
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Contact: Joe Santangelo
j.santangelo@elsevier.com
212-633-3810
Lancet
23-Oct-2006


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