WHA70: Statement of Knowledge Ecology International: Review of the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework

On Thursday, 25 May 2017, Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) delivered the following intervention on the Review of the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework (PIP) at the 70th session of the World Health Assembly (WHA).

KEI has followed the work on the PIP Framework since its inception. It is an important agreement that takes practical steps to address benefit sharing and access, with a narrow focus on influenza emergencies. The WHO should address the recommended changes to address the handling of genetic sequence data.

One weakness of the agreement is the voluntary nature of the funding from the vaccine and device manufacturers, a factor in limiting the scope of the agreement, for example, to exclude areas where the framework could have benefits, such as a greater role in non-emergency influenza, or to expand the framework to other disease areas.

This reflects the general inability of the governments to address the need for more robust and sustainable systems of finance for the supply of public goods, a topic that should be discussed further.

Among the more innovative elements of the system is the Standard Material Transfer Agreement 2 (SMTA 2), for transfers of materials outside the WHO global influenza surveillance and response system (GISRS ). The SMTA 2 sets forth the obligations on drug, vaccine, and diagnostic manufacturers, which are implemented as a “menu” of possible actions to expand access to the signatories’ products.

To our knowledge, vaccine and drug manufacturers have not elected to use the licensing of vaccines or drugs under options A5 and A6 of Article 4 of the agreement. The WHO should recommend measures that would induce manufacturers to offer such licenses.



Thiru Balasubramaniam is the Geneva Representative of Knowledge Ecology International. Prior to his post as KEI’s Geneva Representative, Mr. Balasubramaniam worked at Health Action International in Colombo and at the World Health Organization in Geneva as a technical officer in the Department of Essential Drugs and Medicines Policy dealing with access to medicines and intellectual property. He began his career with CPTech working on issues related to health care and intellectual property. Mr. Balasubramaniam holds a B.A. in Economics and a Minor in European History from the University of Pennsylvania.