Report of the Intergovernmental Working Group on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property
61st World Health Assembly actions
- Global strategy approved.
- Plan of action approved except for a small number of actions (10 out of 107 actions) which remained open.
Today, 4.8 billion people live in developing countries and 2.7 billion of them (43%) live on less than US$ 2 a day. Communicable diseases account for half of the diseases in these countries. Recognizing that poverty, among other issues, prevents access to medical commodities for this population, governments, pharmaceutical industry, foundations, NGOs and others have worked to encourage development of new medicines and increase access. But more needs to be done. In April 2006, "The report of the commission on intellectual property rights, innovation and public health" analysed the problem and provided many recommendations now contained in the public health, innovation and intellectual property resolution placed before this year's World Health Assembly. WHO's Member States have recognized that market-driven research and development should be expanded to include additional incentives for health needs-driven research and development, and to make these advances affordable and accessible in developing countries.
Resolution on strategy
The strategy proposes that WHO should play a strategic and central role in the relationship between public health and innovation and intellectual property within its mandate. To achieve this principle, Member States endorsed by consensus a strategy designed to promote new thinking in innovation and access to medicines, which would encourage needs-driven research rather than purely market-driven research to target diseases which disproportionately affect people in developing countries.
Elements of the strategy
The Member States agreed to encourage the application and management of intellectual property in a way that maximizes health-related innovation and access. Other components of the strategy, endorsed by the Member States include:
- an assessment of health needs in developing countries and identification of research and development priorities;
- promotion of research and development on diseases which substantially or overwhelmingly affect people in developing countries, and also diseases which affect rich and poor countries with large numbers of vulnerable populations in both;
- exploration and implementation, where appropriate, of possible incentive schemes for research and development;
- improvement of research and development capacity in developing countries;
- improvement, promotion and acceleration of technology transfer;
- improvement of access to all health commodities by effectively overcoming barriers to access; and
- sustainable financing for R&D in developing countries.
Short-term follow-up actions
WHO will prepare a quick start programme with adequate budget provision and begin immediately to implement the elements of the global strategy that fall under its responsibility. WHO will finalize the outstanding components of the plan of action and estimate the cost implications of the plan. WHO will establish an expert working group to examine current financing and coordination of research and development, as well as proposals for new and innovative sources of funding to stimulate research and development.
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