The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) held the 39th Meeting of its Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) from 6-8 December 2016 in Geneva Switzerland. In his opening speech on Tuesday, 6 December 2016, Michel Sidibé (Executive Director, UNAIDS) paid tribute to the life of Australian national Katie Kirk – who passed away on 20 October 2016 while on mission in Indonesia.
In his speech, Sidibé noted:
Finally, I want to pay tribute to Catherine Kirk, who left us much too early and tragically. She was a rising young star working for UNDP, and her vibrant energy and contributions will be terribly missed. I offer my condolences to her family, friends and colleagues.
In the words of a UNDP colleague, Katie Kirk “was at the heart of the Secretariat of the Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines.”
As UNDP, in collaboration with UNAIDS, served as the Secretariat to the High-Level Panel, it is perhaps no surprise that the Members of the UNAIDS PCB deliberated for eight hours (over two days) in the India Room of the World Health Organization in determining the UNAIDS response to the recommendations of the Report of the UN High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines.
A report delighting in the name, “Synthesis report of existing research and literature on intellectual property-related and other factors impacting the availability, affordability, and accessibility of treatment and diagnostics for HIV and co-infections in low and middle-income countries” was the subject of three and a half hour discussion on Wednesday, 7 December 2016.
Paragraph 108 of the report said:
UNAIDS should explore the recommendations made by the report of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines, and apply them, where appropriate, to the global AIDS response to ensure improved policy coherence across the Joint Programme, in order to support countries to achieve the health-related Sustainable Development Goals, especially those pertaining to access to health technologies and innovation.
The India Room informals led to the following decision point:
Agenda item 6: Synthesis report of existing research and literature on intellectual property (IP)-related and other factors impacting the availability, affordability, and accessibility of treatment and diagnostics for HIV and co-infections in low and middleincome
7.1 Takes note of the report;
7.2 Reaffirms the UNAIDS Strategy 2016-2021 and the mandates therein to be implemented by the Joint Programme on the many matters relevant to access to HIV/AIDS medicines, including intellectual property;
7.3 Requests the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS to report to the 41st PCB meeting on progress made in implementing the UNAIDS Strategy 2016-2021 in this regard;
7.4 Takes note of the report of the UN High Level Panel on Access to Medicines (UN HLP) and requests the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS to facilitate further discussions on access to medicines bearing in mind, as appropriate, the UN HLP report and other relevant reports, including the trilateral report of WHO/WIPO/WTO Promoting Access to Medical Technologies and Innovation and keep the PCB informed of the matter;
7.5 Requests the Joint Programme, within its mandate and available resources, together with all relevant partners, and in collaboration with member states, to further identify data gaps, best practices and challenges therein, collect and analyze the necessary data including existing data, in order to better support countries to address intellectual property-related barriers, as one important barrier, as well as the other barriers impacting on availability, affordability, and accessibility of medicines, treatment and diagnostics for HIV and HIV co-infections and co-morbidities in low and middle-income countries;
This decision point provides UNAIDS the policy space to “facilitate further discussions on access to medicines” predicated upon the principles and recommendations of the UN HLP report. In addition, the decision point provides UNAIDS the mandate to “collect and analyze the necessary data including existing data, in order to better support countries to address intellectual property-related barriers”.