Statement of Knowledge Ecology International – WHO EB Special session on the draft Thirteenth General Programme of Work

Meeting: EB Special session on the draft Thirteenth General Programme of Work
Agenda Item: 3. Draft Thirteenth General Programme of Work

KEI welcomes the opportunity to comment on the 13th General Programme of Work anchored upon WHO’s vision of achieving universal health coverage.

The key to achieving universal health coverage is to reduce reliance upon and eventually abandon the practice of using high prices and patent monopolies as the incentive to invest in R&D. Delinkage models expand the role of direct funding of research and subsidies for trial costs, and use money, rather than monopolies, as the incentive mechanism. Without delinkage, the WHO will never achieve universal health coverage.

The GPW13 should envision a pathway to evaluate and implement alternative business models that are consistent with universal access to products, which means, in practical terms, the progressive implementation of delinkage of R&D costs from the prices of and incentives to invest in products, something that is essential to reducing prices without undermining innovation.

We commend the WHO’s commitment, expressed in GPW13, to strengthen its role in providing global public goods. To this end, we request Member States to provide the WHO with the mandate to explore norms and mechanisms to enhance the transparency of R&D costs, prices and revenues. We reiterate the call made by India at the 70th SEARO Regional Committee urging the WHO to lead negotiations on a global R&D agreement which could provide global norms for funding R&D as a public good.

While the GPW identifies noncommunicable diseases as a strategic priority, it demonstrates a clear lack of ambition in relation to access to cancer medicines. We also note that the document is silent on the barriers posed by intellectual property rules on access to medicines.

The WHO has a variety of existing commitments under the CEWG and Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation, and Intellectual Property; this legacy should not be forgotten.

Kim Treanor