Building scholarship to guide decisions and governance for interactions between public health and corporate actors
Recently, discussions about collaboration and partnerships between public and private sector actors have entered the global health discourse, particularly to help deliver results towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition. For instance, the food and beverage industry has become an active player in this conversation and has suggested that they should play a greater role in promoting the consumption of healthy foods and beverages. This is also evidenced by an increase in corporate activities that aim to shape or influence global food systems through lobbying, marketing, corporate social responsibility initiatives, and funding scientific research.
In parallel, public health researchers and practitioners are weighing the advantages and disadvantages of support and funding from the corporate sector.
This has led to a growing interest by public health professionals to document, understand, and address concerns about governance, ethics, and conflicts of interest that may arise during interactions between public health actors and corporations. In response, the Governance, Ethics, and Conflicts of Interest in Public Health Network (GECI-PH) was established as a research and action network to examine the benefits and challenges in engaging with commercial sector actors, and to promote institutional safeguards and measures that protect public health goals in research, professional practice, and policymaking.
This project, implemented by the American University of Beirut, will support GECI-PH to develop locally grounded but globally relevant learnings on this topic, and to advocate for more robust, transparent and accountable scientific research and public health policymaking. Through this project, evidence-based recommendations for researchers, donors, and policymakers will be produced in peer-reviewed publications and shared via a global online knowledge-sharing and collaboration platform. Finally, a sustainable Southern-led network of practice will be established to support collaboration of public health actors from Africa, Latin America, Asia, the Middle East, and Europe on the conceptual development and application of the commercial determinants of health in research and professional practice.