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Addressing commercial influence and power imbalance in intersectoral governance

PhD Seminar


Dori Patay


SDSC Reading Room, Hedley Bull Centre (130), corner of Garran Road and Liversidge Street, ANU


Thursday, 4 April, 2019 - 12:30 to 13:30

Undue influence from large transnational corporations infiltrate governments, while it has utmost importance that ministries of economy, trade, foreign affairs and agriculture regulate these businesses with public interest at forefront, as their policies have an impact on policy fields which voice is often not elevated in intersectoral policy making.

In her Mid-Term Review presentation, Dori Patay will present the early findings of her PhD research and will demonstrate the ways the persuading power of health can be strengthened when the commercial sector applies pressure on the government.

The Pacific Island Countries (PICs) are excellent example of how commercial influence on governments contribute to the noncommunicable disease (NCD) crisis. (1–12). Today more than 70% of all deaths around the world happen because of NCDs (13), and among global health experts it is a widely accepted fact that “economic, commercial and market factors contribute to the NCD burden and inequities and require […] strengthened regulatory systems and governance structures which identify and address conflicts of interest” (14).

A quarter of countries in the world are small island developing states, thus understanding how the governments of PICs handle commercial influence in intersectoral policy making in the case of regulating unhealthy commodity industries has a wide relevance to countries all around the world who struggle with NCDs or with undue commercial influence on its governance.

The learnings might also be applicable to fields where conflicts of interest and imbalance in persuading power influences policy making, such as environment and climate change, education, gender or youth affairs.

About the speaker

Dori Patay is a third year PhD Candidate at RegNet whose research focuses on the governance of the commercial determinants of non-communicable diseases, with using the case study of tobacco in Fiji and Vanuatu. Her supervisory panel includes Prof Sharon Friel (RegNet), Prof Jeff Collin (University of Edinburgh), Prof Susan Sell (RegNet), and Dr Ashley Schram (RegNet).

Dori holds a Bachelor’s degree in Physiotherapy, a Postgraduate degree on Health Care Services Management, and a Master’s degree on Public Health Policy, Planning and Financing. Her master’s research on the Hungarian tobacco control governance mechanisms was awarded as the thesis of the year at her university. After spending years in the private sector as a consultant, she changed direction when she became the Director of Civil and Humanitarian Affairs at the African Hungarian Union. Later she got involved as a junior expert in a bilateral collaborative agreement for health policy tasks between WHO Regional Office for Europe and the Hungarian Government in 2016. She was awarded a dual scholarship at RegNet in 2017 to conduct her PhD studies under the supervision of Prof Sharon Friel. Dori has recently returned from her fieldwork in Fiji and Vanuatu, and is currently in the progress of data analysis and writing up her dissertation.

  1. Anderson IPS. The Economic Costs of Noncommunicable Diseases in the Pacific Islands: A Rapid Stocktake of the Situation in Samoa, Tonga, and Vanuatu [Internet]. World Bank; 2012 [cited 2018 Mar 15]. Available from: http://elibrary.worldbank.org/doi/book/10.1596/27219

  2. Christoforou A, Snowdon W, Laesango N, Vatucawaqa S, Lamar D, Alam L, et al. Progress on Salt Reduction in the Pacific Islands: From Strategies to Action. Heart, Lung and Circulation. 2015 May;24(5):503–9.

  3. Friel S, Butler C, McMichael A. Climate change and health: risks and inequities. In: Benatar S, Brock G, editors. Global Health and Global Health Ethics [Internet]. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2011 [cited 2018 Mar 15]. p. 198–209. Available from: http://ebooks.cambridge.org/ref/id/CBO9780511984792A027

  4. Friel S, Hattersley L, Townsend R. Trade Policy and Public Health. Annual Review of Public Health. 2015 Mar 18;36(1):325–44.

  5. Kessaram T, McKenzie J, Girin N, Roth A, Vivili P, Williams G, et al. Noncommunicable diseases and risk factors in adult populations of several Pacific Islands: results from the WHO STEPwise approach to surveillance. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health. 2015 Aug;39(4):336–43.

  6. Kessaram T, McKenzie J, Girin N, Roth A, Vivili P, Williams G, et al. Tobacco Smoking in Islands of the Pacific Region, 2001–2013. Preventing Chronic Disease [Internet]. 2015 Dec 3 [cited 2018 Dec 21];12. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2015/15_0155.htm

  7. Ravuvu A, Friel S, Thow A-M, Snowdon W, Wate J. Monitoring the impact of trade agreements on national food environments: trade imports and population nutrition risks in Fiji. Globalization and Health [Internet]. 2017 Dec [cited 2018 Mar 15];13(1). Available from: http://globalizationandhealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12992-...

  8. Reubi D, Herrick C, Brown T. The politics of non-communicable diseases in the global South. Health & Place. 2016 May;39:179–87.

  9. Snowdon W, Thow AM. Trade policy and obesity prevention: challenges and innovation in the Pacific Islands: Trade and obesity in the Pacific Islands. Obesity Reviews. 2013 Nov;14:150–8.

  10. Snowdon W, Raj A, Reeve E, Guerrero RL, Fesaitu J, Cateine K, et al. Processed foods available in the Pacific Islands. Globalization and Health. 2013;9(1):53.

  11. Thow A-M, Snowdon W. The effect of trade and trade policy on diet and health in the pacific islands. In: Trade, food, diet, and health : perspectives and policy options. Chichester, England: Blackwell Publications,; 2010. p. 147-168.

  12. Tolley H, Snowdon W, Wate J, Durand AM, Vivili P, McCool J, et al. Monitoring and accountability for the Pacific response to the non-communicable diseases crisis. BMC Public Health [Internet]. 2016 Dec [cited 2018 Dec 22];16(1). Available from: http://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-016-3614-8

  13. WHO. Global Health Estimates 2016 Summary Tables: Deaths by casue, age and sex, by WHO region, 2000-2016 [Internet]. Geneva, Switzerland; 2018 Apr. Available from: http://www.who.int/healthinfo/global_burden_disease/en/

  14. Statement: The Political Economy of Non-communicable Diseases: a Whole of Society Approach. Prince Mahidol Award Conference 2019. Prince Mahidol Award Conference; 2019.




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