Conflict of interest (CoI) is a significant challenge in the fight against NCDs. A workshop to address this was organised by the Cambodian Movement for Health and WHO, in collaboration with the Cambodian NCD Alliance (CNCDA). Financial support for the workshop came from the South East Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) and WHO, under the implementation of Article 5.3 of the Framework Convention of Tobacco Control.
The workshop was organised to help members of CNCDA safeguard the credibility and integrity of our work. The objectives of the workshop were to:
Develop a shared understanding of CoI and industry interference in NCD prevention and control
Highlight three examples of industry interference and lessons learnt
Explore how to prevent and address conflicts of interest and mitigate industry influence
The workshop brought together members working on different aspects of NCD prevention and control to discuss the potential and real CoI which can emerge when addressing the key determinants of NCDs.
In the first session specific examples of CoI between public health and some of the main health-harming industries in Cambodia and elsewhere, were shared by experts in relation to alcohol and tobacco control, and the diet and nutrition.
In the second half of the workshop the discussions focused on how to mitigate real and perceived CoI. SEATCA talked about how to prevent CoI - developing guidelines, codes of conduct and regular monitoring - and how to resolve any CoI. This was followed by CNCDA presenting the draft members CoI policy which can be found here.
Key takeaways included that perceived CoI can be just as damaging as real CoI, the food and beverage industry is more of a grey area than tobacco and alcohol because it has the potential to do good, and that civil society need to hold themselves to a higher standard than government regarding interactions with health-harming industries.
Since the workshop CNCDA have finalised CNCDA CoI policy and member application process. New members need to complete the member application form, in addition to a Declaration of Interests form and familiarize themselves with the CoI policy.