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Infect Dis Poverty. 2014 Nov 3;3(1):39. doi: 10.1186/2049-9957-3-39. eCollection 2014.

Multinational corporations and infectious disease: Embracing human rights management techniques.

Author information

1
Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, P.O. Box, CH-4002, Basel, Switzerland ; University of Basel, P.O. Box, CH-4003, Basel, Switzerland ; NomoGaia, 1900 Wazee Street, Suite 303, Denver, CO 80202 USA ; NewFields, LLC, Denver, CO 80202 USA.
2
Emerging Pathogens Institute, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610 USA.
3
Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, P.O. Box, CH-4002, Basel, Switzerland ; University of Basel, P.O. Box, CH-4003, Basel, Switzerland.
4
NewFields, LLC, Denver, CO 80202 USA.
5
NomoGaia, 1900 Wazee Street, Suite 303, Denver, CO 80202 USA ; NewFields, LLC, Denver, CO 80202 USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Global health institutions have called for governments, international organisations and health practitioners to employ a human rights-based approach to infectious diseases. The motivation for a human rights approach is clear: poverty and inequality create conditions for infectious diseases to thrive, and the diseases, in turn, interact with social-ecological systems to promulgate poverty, inequity and indignity. Governments and intergovernmental organisations should be concerned with the control and elimination of these diseases, as widespread infections delay economic growth and contribute to higher healthcare costs and slower processes for realising universal human rights. These social determinants and economic outcomes associated with infectious diseases should interest multinational companies, partly because they have bearing on corporate productivity and, increasingly, because new global norms impose on companies a responsibility to respect human rights, including the right to health.

METHODS:

We reviewed historical and recent developments at the interface of infectious diseases, human rights and multinational corporations. Our investigation was supplemented with field-level insights at corporate capital projects that were developed in areas of high endemicity of infectious diseases, which embraced rights-based disease control strategies.

RESULTS:

Experience and literature provide a longstanding business case and an emerging social responsibility case for corporations to apply a human rights approach to health programmes at global operations. Indeed, in an increasingly globalised and interconnected world, multinational corporations have an interest, and an important role to play, in advancing rights-based control strategies for infectious diseases.

CONCLUSIONS:

There are new opportunities for governments and international health agencies to enlist corporate business actors in disease control and elimination strategies. Guidance offered by the United Nations in 2011 that is widely embraced by companies, governments and civil society provides a roadmap for engaging business enterprises in rights-based disease management strategies to mitigate disease transmission rates and improve human welfare outcomes.

KEYWORDS:

Corporate social responsibility; Human rights; Infectious diseases; Multinational corporations; Systems-based interventions

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