Commercial determinants of health

29 March 2023

The private sector has a major influence on health through its products and practices. Commercial actors influence health in varied and complex ways. They have been fundamental in developing and delivering essential health goods and services, but some of their products and practices are responsible for escalating ill-health and health inequity worldwide.

The frameworks for understanding and an agenda for responding to these influences on health are set out in The Lancet Series on the Commercial Determinants of Health. Its three papers show the way to a world where health comes before profit and all people live free from harms caused by commercial forces.

“It is time for a paradigm shift. Public health cannot and will not improve without action on the commercial determinants of health, from the local to global level. New forms of public health governance are needed.” - WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

The authors of the papers outlined the full range of commercial sectors and practices that have negative impacts on health, products including not just alcohol, tobacco, and unhealthy food industries, but also others such as fossil fuels, mining and gambling, but also the influences of industries such as automobile, pharmaceuticals, new technologies, and social media.

“It is the time to advance bold conceptualizations of social progress in ways that make public interests and human well-being higher priorities than profit” - The Lancet

WHO is committed to ensuring the private sector is able to fulfil its potential to become a partner for health and together, we can develop new metrics and governance, expand the evidence base, and reorient harmful commercial practices towards health and health equity.

Source: Experts call for action on the commercial determinants of health and health equity

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