Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters Business and public health

We must reclaim public health from private corporate interests

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 18 September 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e6160
  1. William Wiist, senior scientist, professor1
  1. 1Interdisciplinary Health Policy Institute, Northern Arizona University, PO Box 15015, Flagstaff, AZ 86004, USA
  1. bill.wiist{at}

Hastings calls for a broadening of public health’s focus beyond concerns about marketing, tobacco, and individual behavior.1 Others in public health—for example, in food and nutrition and non-communicable chronic disease have also taken this perspective. Some have raised the problem of widespread and multifaceted corporate influence on public health and the need for a framework for a public health policy that focuses on corporations.2 3

Hastings’ suggestion that public health move away from a narrow technocratic focus to a broader macroeconomic participation that emphasizes that the direction of capitalism and the implications of business is crucially important.4 His “ambitious pitch” that public health revitalize its upstream political functions is welcome support for concerns in the US about the political power of corporations.5 The influence and power of corporations transcends geopolitical borders (for example, through trade agreements) to the extent that corporations have become global governing agencies. Thus, it is important that public health professionals in all countries network around our shared interests in tackling the influence and power of corporations. We must build coalitions and join forces with others inside and outside the public health profession. In this way, we can work together to build a strong, sustainable, and effective global movement that will reclaim public health and democracy from the vested singular interest of private corporate profits.


Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e6160