Statement | 29 January, 2019 | Download PDF
Stichting Health Action International (HAI) welcomes the opportunity to address this session of the Executive Board and contribute to the roadmap for access to medicines, vaccines and other health products.
As we expressed during the informal discussion, we acknowledge the World Health Organization (WHO) Secretariat’s efforts to compile relevant resolutions, including the Global Strategy and Plan of Action (GSPOA) on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property, within the framework of General Programme of Work 13 (GPW13); proper access to medicines still constitutes a challenge, threatening the life and well-being of too many.
Through our work in different areas of access to medicines, be it in connection to neglected tropical diseases, like snakebite envenoming; access to insulin, or to promoting the use of intellectual property tools to achieve public health goals, we bear daily witness to most of the concerns acknowledged in the document, including increasingly high prices, limited availability, lack of unbiased information, or misaligned research and development goals.
While we endorse evidence-based interventions, including health technology assessments, as part of the possible actions by national authorities to improve and secure access to medicines, more should be done to ensure and enforce transparency, especially in relation to pricing, procurement and reimbursement decisions. Furthermore, transparency is indispensable to ensure accountability, and therefore a prerequisite for good governance. This not only applies to governments, but also intergovernmental organisations, private entities and non-government organisations alike. Public-private partnerships, in which WHO participates, even as an observer, would be no exception.
We note with satisfaction that the document acknowledges the mandate of the GSPOA to address the excesses of intellectual property protection through the use of flexibilities and other compensatory mechanisms. An increasing number of countries are making use of such instruments to counter excessive medicine pricing despite unilateral pressures by some governments to desist. Even though collaboration with other United Nations agencies, as set out in the GSPOA, might be useful, it is time for WHO—nationally, regionally and globally—to be considered the lead agency on intellectual property and public health matters, effectively streamlining its technical cooperation capabilities beyond a case-by-case basis.
Only a concerted intervention that involves different stakeholders and concerned parties can deliver a lasting solution. WHO has the technical expertise and global standing to lead the response embodied by this Roadmap with support from Member States and civil society.
We remain committed to contributing to this dialogue. Thank you.