NEW YORK–Our event at the UN on mobilizing action to address NCDs was a great opportunity to dive deeper into the private sector’s role after attending a session at the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria’s conference that touched on the topic.
In a session on the critical role of multisectoral engagement Herb Riband of Medtronic raised an important issue in the fight against NCDs. He said that some people in the health community are uncomfortable with the private sector’s involvement. This topic was raised at the recent World Health Assembly as well. Riband added that some companies are sitting on the fence and waiting to come forward depending on the outcome of the UN High-Level Meeting on NCDs in September.
At sessions throughout the day panelists–representing companies including PepsiCo, Pfizer and Novo Nordisk, to name a few–also disagreed with the perception of the private sector as a monolithic entity.
Sarita Nayyar of the World Economic Forum pointed out that companies have roles to play as both employers and providers of goods and services.
Given all of this, doesn’t it make sense to engage a wide spectrum of perspectives and expertise in the fight against NCDs?
Questions were posed by the audience on how civil society can contribute to these efforts and how to address competing interests among companies trying to work together on NCDs. Sir George Alleyne, director emeritus of PAHO, acknowledged that some dissonance is needed to produce harmony. The point was also made that groups working to address NCDs sometimes need to stretch outside of their comfort zones.
The event also included several examples of successful partnerships in fighting NCDs and a discussion of desired outcomes from the UN High-Level Meeting in September.
A report from the event will be made public at our annual conference.