Lancet launches series on commercial determinants of health

Mar. 29, 2023

This week, the prestigious British medical journal the Lancet launched a new series of reports on the commercial determinants of health. The three papers in the series People, Profits, and Health, “show the way to a world where health comes before profit and all people live free from harms caused by commercial forces,” the journal writes. 

The World Health Organization defines commercial determinants of health as “private sector activities that affect people’s health, directly or indirectly, positively or negatively.” In a commentary on this new series, WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus writes, “It is time for a paradigm shift. Public health cannot and will not improve without action on the commercial determinants of health, from the local to global level. New forms of public health governance are needed.” 

CUNY SPH Distinguished Professor Nicholas Freudenberg, who has been writing about commercial drivers of health for more than 15 years, is a co-author on two of the three papers in the new Lancet series.

“These reports constitute the most comprehensive and wide-ranging analysis to date of the growing scientific, public policy and advocacy literatures on the impact of commercial and corporate practices and policies on global health,” says Freudenberg.   

The 35 authors of these reports come from 15 countries and six continents and include scholars, public health professionals and activists. The Lancet series, “illuminate the fundamental scientific, political and economic challenges to improved global health in the decades to come and synthesize the evidence that can inform more effective responses to the continuing cascade of health crises,” observes Freudenberg, “These include the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate emergency, rising rates of noncommunicable diseases and mental illness, increased workplace challenges to health and safety and growing inequalities in access to health care and essential medicines.”     

View the series here.