WHA70: Statement of Knowledge Ecology International – CEWG follow up

On Friday, 26 May 2017, Knowledge Ecology International delivered the following intervention on the Follow-up of the report of the Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development: Financing and Coordination. The statement was delivered by Thiru Balasubramaniam.

13.5 Follow-up of the report of the Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development: Financing and Coordination


In May 2016, the 69th World Health Assembly (WHA) requested (WHA69.23) the Director-General:

“to report to the Seventieth World Health Assembly on the implementation of this resolution, and request the Seventieth World Health Assembly to consider convening another open-ended meeting of Member States in order to assess progress and continue discussions on the remaining issues in relation to monitoring, coordination and financing for health research and development. . . “

The Secretariat document A70/22 contains no reference to this instruction.

Instead, the Secretariat paper proposes “organizing a specific high-level event in 2017 with the purpose of promoting increased investment into research and development funding in areas where the current investment levels are insufficient to meet global public health needs.” This is a worthwhile objective, but it not particularly novel, and ignores the important and transformative goal of building new frameworks for funding R&D that are both needs driven and consistent with the objective of ”access to medicine for all.”

For “Access to medicine for all” to mean something, the way we finance innovation has to be consistent with access. Delinkage, which was a central proposal by the CEWG and the UN High Level Panel, should be on the agenda every time public sector funding of R&D is discussed, and when R&D funding reforms are considered by the WHO.

The R&D observatory implementation needs to be more ambitious. For example, the Observatory should collect and publish data on R&D investment flows, the costs associated with specific clinical trials, and the role of government in funding or subsidizing drug development, and publish the text and/or the terms of licenses on patents when public sector funding of the R&D is involved.