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WHF intervention on FENSA at the WHO Executive Board Meeting

26 Jan 2016

On 26 January, World Heart Federation’s Joanna Markbreiter delivered a statement on the Framework of Engagement with Non-State Actors (FENSA) agenda item at the 138th Session of the World Health Organization Executive Board in Geneva.

Advocacy Officer Joanna Markbreiter, center


The WHF statement she delivered focused on the lack of clarity on WHO’s engagement with Non-State Actors, which continues to constrain the WHO’s relationship with external organizations, and consequently its work on non-communicable diseases (NCDs). WHF strongly urged the WHO to resume work swiftly to ensure the adoption of FENSA at WHA 69 in May 2016.

Q&A with Joanna Markbreiter, Project & Advocacy Officer, WHF

This short Q&A with Joanna provides information on FENSA, and how and why WHF works with the WHO on this framework.

What is FENSA?

FENSA stands for ‘Framework for Engagement with Non-State Actors’. It is a draft working document that aims to guide the World Health Organization (WHO) in its work with external organizations and individuals. The term ‘Non-State Actor’ includes NGOs, academia and the private sector. The World Heart Federation is considered a Non-State Actor by the WHO, so this Framework will affect how we work with the WHO moving forward.

How long has FENSA been in progress?

WHO Member States are now entering the fourth year of negotiations on FENSA. The reason that it is taking so long is due to different opinions of Member States, who are disagreeing on several contentious parts of FENSA, especially over appropriate engagement with the private sector.

How does FENSA affect WHF?

As a Non-State Actor, the outcomes of FENSA will determine how we work with the WHO. Currently, we work very closely with the WHO through our shared Three-Year Workplan with the NCDs department. It is because we wish to protect and promote this valuable partnership that we are making this statement at the Geneva Executive Board.

What should FENSA contain?

FENSA is a complex Framework. It should allow the WHO to effectively engage in partnerships, especially for NCDs, while protecting the WHO from harmful influence by external organizations. We at the WHF hope that FENSA will include clear, firm language on the harmful influence that some industries can exert over health, such as the tobacco industry and its impact on NCDs. We also hope that FENSA will guide the WHO to establish an official register of Non-State Actors and their work, so that our contributions to the WHO can be recorded and reviewed.

When will FENSA be finalised?

While the debate on FENSA has been lengthy, Member States are closer than ever to agreeing upon a final version of the Framework. We strongly hope that, with encouragement from the WHF’s statement on FENSA at the Geneva Executive Board, Member States will work swiftly to close the document and adopt FENSA at the World Health Assembly in May 2018.