Scientists find link between health policies and political favouritism

health policies political, WHO public health
© Chobircanvas1995

A new study reveals that WHO public health policies are poorly implemented in countries where corporations have influence via corruption and political favouritism

The study, published in The Lancet Global Health, found that countries with more corporate influence are less likely to implement WHO public health policies.

According to the research team at the Karolinska Institutet and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, corruption and political favouritism influence the implementation of key policies on alcohol, unhealthy foods and tobacco.

The data points to Global South countries as particularly vulnerable to corporate influence.

“Corporate political influence” is connected to levels of policy

“Our analysis shows that corporate political influence is associated with the degree of implementation – the more influence corporations had, the lower the degree of implementation of preventive public health measures,” said Luke Allen, the first author of the study.

“While we cannot establish causality, our findings indicate that more work is needed to support particularly low-income countries in introducing effective NCD policies, especially around commercial determinants.”

It seems that on average, only one third of public health policies had been fully implemented in 2020. While they unearthed a significant connection between deaths due to noncommunicable diseases and lack of policy, they realised that delayed action on implementation could lead to immense levels of death.

“Increased risk of dying of infectious diseases”

Hampus Holmer, researcher at the Department of Global Public Health, Karolinska Institutet, said: “Our study found slow overall implementation of WHO’s recommended NCD policies, especially when it comes to measures targeted at risk factors such as smoking, alcohol and unhealthy foods.

“This is worrying since non-communicable disease is already the most common cause of death, including premature death, in the world today. Several of these diseases are also linked to an increased risk of dying of infectious diseases such as COVID-19 or tuberculosis.”

“increased risk of dying of infectious diseases such as COVID-19 or tuberculosis.”

The study was conducted in collaboration with Luke Allen, research fellow at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UK, and Professor Simon Wigley at Bilkent University, Turkey.

Read the full study here.


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