WHO EB136: Statement on Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property

Statement read on January 30th during the World Health Organization (WHO) 136th Executive Board Meeting.

IFMSA is currently represented at WHO EB136 by a delegation of 4 members: Pedro Miranda (LO-WHO), Agostinho Sousa (President), Claudel P-Desrosiers (VPE) and Ivan Seah (General Delegate).

Agenda Item 10.5 – Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property

IFMSA welcomes the proposed evaluation timeline for the Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property (GSPOA) including recognition of the importance of stakeholder participation in the evaluation process. However, particularly in light of discussions earlier this week, we respectfully request clarification of:

  1. how and what type of experts will be involved in the evaluation to ensure the process is guided by appropriate representation and expertise;
  2. the role of stakeholders in the evaluation process;
  3. specific opportunities for stakeholder involvement;
  4. how the process will be made transparent and how conflict(s) of interest will be addressed during the evaluation process.

As it is not clear an external consultant will offer the requisite experience and expertise, we urge consideration of alternative options.

IFMSA further strongly supports the draft decision to extend the mandate of the GSPOA until 2022. The GSPOA has established a framework for an “…enhanced and sustainable basis for needs-driven, essential health, research and development” which recognizes the urgent need to delink R&D costs from the price of products/technology. Such delinkage is essential for promoting access to medicines and, ultimately, achieving universal health coverage worldwide. As the goals of the GSPOA has not be fully realized, it is critical that its mandate be extended, and the continued work under the GSPOA is sufficiently supported.

Within the GSPOA, we would particularly like to highlight the role of the WHO in ensuring “policy coherence between trade and health at regional and global levels” (WHA59.26). As negotiations proceed on a new generation of “mega” trade agreements – unprecedented in their size, scope, secrecy and potentially devastating intellectual property and health implications –  including the TPP and the TTIP Partnership, we urge prioritization of these mandates and engagement by the WHO to ensure that these trade agreements promote rather than undermine access to medicines and health.

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