Leading and Coordinating Global Health: Strengthening the World Health Organization
By Nirmalya Syam
The World Health Organization (WHO) should act as the directing and coordinating authority in global health but it has been steadily marginalized over time by design, through criticism as an inefficient organization, the reduction of assessed contributions and consequent impoverishment, and the proliferation of “new” international health agencies to which WHO has been compelled to cede operational space. This paper discusses how such marginalization of the WHO is in the interest of the dominant actors in global health, and leads to the neglect of health as a development issue. Today the global health system is more fragmented than it was when the WHO was established in 1948. Rich donor countries and corporations dominate multistakeholder governance structures in health partnerships, marginalizing most of the WHO membership and, notably, the Global South, in their decision-making. A consequence of this fragmentation in global health governance is that the space of the only multilateral organization where developing countries have an equal presence in terms of participation and decision-making as sovereign States –WHO– has been marginalized. Consequently, the development dimension of health is also marginalized and only the development assistance aspects of it receive major attention through vertical programmes and agencies addressing limited health needs without effectively addressing the basic need of strengthening health systems. Therefore, for developing countries it is imperative that WHO is effectively retooled to act as the leading and coordinating authority on global health with adequate legal powers, as well as institutional and financial capacities to do so without undue influence from donor countries and entities that have interests in the private sector. This would enable WHO to ensure that the interests of all countries are fairly addressed in its normative and operational activities. Such a transformation of WHO would require action both within and outside the organization. The paper proposes some suggestions in this regard.
South Centre Statement to the WHA 75th Session
The South Centre highlights priorities for the 75th session of the World Health Assembly: Covid-19 response, sustainable financing for WHO, health emergency preparedness and response.
STATEMENT BY CARLOS M. CORREA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE SOUTH CENTRE, TO THE MEETING OF THE NAM HEALTH MINISTERS ON THE OCCASION OF THE 75TH WORLD HEALTH ASSEMBLY, MAY 20, 2022
The South Centre has closely followed issues concerning access to medicines and the work of the WHO over the years. In the last couple of years, it has provided analyses and advice in connection with the COVID-19 crisis that has so severely affected the members of NAM.
SOUTH CENTRE STATEMENT FOR THE 74TH WORLD HEALTH ASSEMBLY: Agenda Item 13.5. Antimicrobial Resistance
Antimicrobial resistance is a silent pandemic. Today WHA74 will discuss current progress but we need to learn from COVID-19. We need to build robust health systems and fix the broken system of innovation to deliver antimicrobials as global common goods. See our statement.
Creative imitation at the front of pharma biotechnology opportunities: some lessons from late late industrialization countries
By Pablo Lavarello and Sebastián Sztulwark
Given that high-cost biopharmaceutical drug patents have started to expire since the early 2000s, biotechnology opens up opportunities for developing countries to pursue an upgrading process by entering the sector as early imitators. Developing these opportunities was transformed on priority needs of health systems since the outbreak of COVID-19. Certain developing countries have advanced in a strategy of imitating biotechnological reference drugs once their patents have expired, opening a possibility for a catching up process.
Examining antimicrobial resistance in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic
By Mirfin Mpundu, Caline Mattar and Mirza Alas
The COVID-19 pandemic provides an opportunity to strengthen the capacity of health systems not only to be better prepared for the next pandemic but also to address ongoing crises such as antimicrobial resistance. The unfolding crisis due to antimicrobial resistance is, unfortunately, similar to the current health crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic, albeit at a slower pace. As countries address the pandemic, there is a need to identify interlinkages between the pandemic and antimicrobial resistance and to continue strengthening the actions needed to slow down the emergence of antimicrobial resistance.
The UN General Assembly Resolutions on COVID-19: Solemn Assurances for Access to Health Technologies without an Action Plan
By Nirmalya Syam
The United Nations (UN) has the mandate under the Charter of the United Nations to promote solutions to international health problems, such as the global COVID-19 pandemic. While the UN secretariat, led by the Secretary-General, has undertaken a number of initiatives in response to COVID-19, member State initiatives in the UN has so far been limited to two resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly. Member States are currently negotiating an omnibus resolution of the General Assembly on COVID-19. This policy brief analyzes the extent to which the General Assembly addresses the issue of timely, equitable and affordable access to health technologies, particularly for developing countries who have greater vulnerability to COVID-19. The adopted resolutions make very broad pledges for global solidarity but lack specific commitments to guide actions by member States. The omnibus resolution currently under negotiation should provide specific guidance to member States on actions to be taken based on the principles of solidarity and multilateral cooperation in diverse aspects impacted by COVID-19.