WHA70: Statement of Knowledge Ecology International on review of the GSPOA-PHI

On Friday, 26 May 2017, Knowledge Ecology International delivered the following intervention on the Evaluation and review of the global strategy and plan of action on public health, innovation and intellectual property. This statement was read by Manon Ress.

13.4 Evaluation and review of the global strategy and plan of action on public health, innovation and intellectual property

The GSPOA evaluation conducted by Capra International was disappointing, raising questions about the terms of reference, and low ambition.

The Global Strategy, adopted in 2008 and revised in 2009, had an important aim, “to promote new thinking on innovation and access to medicines.” Let’s be candid, this agenda has moved at glacial speed. We should ask why.

One key aspect of the Global Strategy was to focus on diseases that, quote, “disproportionately affect developing countries.”

This frame has several important consequences.

First, it seems to frame R&D market failures narrowly, to only those areas where there is a lack of market driven innovation, while avoiding an acknowledgment that the lack of access is also an important market failure.

Second, the Global Strategy seemed to have almost no relevance to patients or taxpayers living in higher income countries, and this did not work to the advantage of developing countries.

North/South divides have contributed to blocking reforms that only benefit developing countries.

If the WHO is going to play a meaningful role in the reform of the global R&D financing system, it very likely has to be more inclusive in terms of who benefits. Asking high income countries to give money to help lower income countries is important, but has some obvious limits in this day and age, and strategically is unwise, when governments of very different incomes are all facing challenges in providing access to medicine for all.

Finally, the Capra International report does not even mention delinkage. How can you evaluate a strategy for “new thinking” and then ignore delinkage, the most important and controversial reform, and the only one that would eliminate in the conflicts between innovation and access?

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