This policy brief provides an overview of the outcomes of selected agenda items that were discussed at the 72nd session of the World Health Assembly (WHA) of the World Health Organization (WHO), held from 21 to 26 May 2019 in Geneva. These items reflect some of the health priorities of developing countries.
Medicines and Intellectual Property: 10 Years of the WHO Global Strategy
By Dr. Germán Velásquez
The negotiations of the Intergovernmental Working Group on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property (IGWG) (2006-2008), undertaken by the Member States of the World Health Organization (WHO), were the result of a deadlock in the 2006 World Health Assembly where the Member States were unable to reach an agreement on what to do with the 60 recommendations in the report on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property submitted to the Assembly in the same year by a group of experts designated by the Director-General of the WHO. The result of these negotiations was the Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property (GSPOA) that was approved by the World Health Assembly in 2008. One of the objectives of the IGWG’s Global Strategy and Plan of Action was to substantially reform the pharmaceutical innovation system in view of its failure to produce affordable medicines for diseases that affect the greater part of the world’s population living in developing countries. The intellectual property (IP) rights imposed by the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and the trade agreements could become some of the main obstacles to accessing medicines. The GSPOA made a critical analysis of this reality and opened the door to the search for new solutions to this problem. Ten years after the approval of the GSPOA, the results are uncertain and poor.
South Centre Statement on Access to Biosimilars/Biogeneric Medicines at the WHA 72
The revision of the guidelines on similar therapeutic products mandated by Resolution WHA67.21 is crucial for promoting the availability of and access to biosimilars. The reduction in prices ensuing from the introduction of these products has become essential to address public health needs in developed and developing countries. The WHO Document A72/59 under consideration by the WHA 72 (agenda item 21.3) states in paragraph 80 that “WHO expert committees have approved guidance on (…) biotherapeutics, including an update of the 2009 similar biotherapeutic products guidelines”. This statement is not accurate, as the guidelines were not updated as mandated by Resolution WHA67.21. Below is the South Centre statement in relation to this issue.
Declaration of the XII Ministerial Meeting of the Ministers of Health of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), “Universal Health Coverage: Leave no one behind”
The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Health Ministers noted that making progress on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is critical to address goal number 3 and other goals in the 2030 Agenda, and called for intensified cooperation and support to achieve such objectives. Below is the declaration adopted on occasion of the 72nd World Health Assembly on 21 May 2019.
Access to Medicines: Experiences with Compulsory Licenses and Government Use – The case of Hepatitis C
By Dr. Carlos M. Correa and Dr. Germán Velásquez
This South Centre research paper discusses first, the limitations of the current research and development (R&D) model and its implications for access to medicines. Second, it considers the tension between intellectual property rights applied to medicines and States’ observance of the fundamental right to health. Third, it examines the case of access to medicines for the treatment of Hepatitis C, illustrating the barriers to access created by intellectual property and the high prices normally associated with its exercise. Fourth, it presents the background, main aspects and obstacles to the achievement of the objectives of the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health (2001). To conclude, this paper examines the experiences of compulsory licensing and government use of patents in Latin America (particularly in Ecuador, Peru and Colombia).
South Centre Statement for the Informal Consultation on the Roadmap on Access to Medicines
The draft roadmap is an important work in progress that needs to be further detailed with clear deliverables and timelines. The roadmap will need to ensure complementarity of its work and the implementation of the Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property (GSPOA).
Major Outcomes of the 71st Session of the World Health Assembly of WHO
By Nirmalya Syam and Mirza Alas
The 71st session of the World Health Assembly (WHA) of the World Health Organization (WHO) took place from 21 to 26 May 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland. The Assembly adopted several decisions and resolutions including the adoption of the General Programme of Work (GPW) of WHO for the period 2019-2023, as well as decisions on addressing access to medicines and vaccines and their global shortage, and the recommendations of an overall programme review of the WHO Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property (GSPA-PHI). (more…)
South Centre Statement at the Meeting of Ministers of Health of the Member States of the Non-Aligned Movement
The South Centre reiterates its commitment to support the Non-Aligned countries so that there is close and effective cooperation among developing countries to strengthen a global health agenda. WHO was created as an international public agency in the service of global health. Recovering and reinforcing this role should be the work of all.