Conflict of interest in public health: should there be a law to prevent it?
“Conflict of interest”, now being commonly cited, is a set of circumstances that creates a risk that professional judgement or actions regarding a primary interest will be unduly influenced by a secondary interest. Conflict of interest situations can be institutional or personal, and can stem from financial or other interests including post-employment opportunities or during public -private partnerships. Conflicts of interest in the creation of public policy, especially health or nutrition related policies such as the vaccine policy, tobacco control, and research related to health, can have negative impact on the lives of millions of people. While the UN Convention Against Corruption, to which India is a signatory, identifies conflict of interest as often being a precursor to corruption, there is no serious action being taken in this direction by the Indian government, in spite of the fact there are instances of serious nature coming to light that affect our peoples lives. If conflict of interest situations are allowed to continue especially in health policy it could be detrimental to millions of people; therefore, it would be in public interest that India enacts a law to prevent conflict of interest in the making of public policies, comprehensive enough to include financial and institutional conflicts of interest.
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