SCP27: South Africa urges WIPO to invite UNHLP Co-Chairs to present their findings

On Tuesday, 12 December 2017, the South African delegation to the WIPO Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP) delivered the following statement on patents and health. South Africa reiterated its strong support for the Report of the UN High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines and exhorted the Committee to invite the Co-Chairs of the HLP to present the findings of the report at the next session of the SCP.

The Africa Group proposal also includes the request for the Co-Chairs of the UN High Level Panel (HLP) to share their views on the HLP’s objectives, findings and recommendations. The UN General Assembly through its resolution RES/71/159 of 2016 acknowledged the need for further discussions on access to medicines among Member States and all relevant stakeholders taking into account the High Level Panel Report.

We have noted that the report has been welcomed by several countries, including from the developed world, through among others, statements at various UN meetings. There has also been a strong statement of support by the European Parliamentary Working group on innovation, access to medicines and poverty related diseases in October 2016.

Many developing countries have also been supportive of the HLP. It can therefore be said that the report has wider support, with only a few countries opposing it. We urge those who oppose to come on board and accept that we at least discuss it in this meeting.

The entire statement can be found below.

SOUTH AFRICAN STATEMENT

27th Session of the SCP
Patents and Health
GENEVA

Mr President,

We align ourselves with the statement of Senegal presented on behalf of the Africa Group on this issue.
Mr President

Access to Medicines is a fundamental component of the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health and the foundation of the comprehensive realization of the Right to Development.

The global community has recognized this and reaffirmed the importance of health when it recognized Access to Public Health as Goal 3 of Agenda 2030. Goal 3 is particularly important because it recognizes that there are large unmet health needs present in both developed and developing countries and that there are significant health inequalities within countries themselves.

Mr President

South Africa welcomes the pertinent conclusions and recommendations of the UN High-Level Panel Report. In spite of the numerous agreements in place, the misalignment between the access to medicines on the one hand and intellectual property protection the other, continues. In this regard, the right of Member States to use TRIPS flexibilities to ensure access to medicines for all remains imperative.

Mr President,

Since access to safe and affordable medicine remains a fundamental challenge for developing countries and LDCs, this committee can play an instrumental role in alleviating this situation, to the extent that pricing still remains a problem.

We believe that the Africa Group proposal on Patents and Health can assist this Committee to promote access to more affordable medicines as a component of progressively realizing the right to health. As previously articulated, the proposal suggests among others that WIPO accelerates its efforts in working with other relevant agencies to assist Member States to apply patentability criteria in a manner that is congruent with their developmental objectives.

The Africa Group proposal also includes the request for the Co-Chairs of the UN High Level Panel (HLP) to share their views on the HLP’s objectives, findings and recommendations. The UN General Assembly through its resolution RES/71/159 of 2016 acknowledged the need for further discussions on access to medicines among Member States and all relevant stakeholders taking into account the High Level Panel Report.

We have noted that the report has been welcomed by several countries, including from the developed world, through among others, statements at various UN meetings. There has also been a strong statement of support by the European Parliamentary Working group on innovation, access to medicines and poverty related diseases in October 2016.

Many developing countries have also been supportive of the HLP. It can therefore be said that the report has wider support, with only a few countries opposing it. We urge those who oppose to come on board and accept that we at least discuss it in this meeting.

We look forward to constructive discussions on this issue in this meeting.

I thank you.

thiru