On Monday May 6, 2019, KEI gave the following intervention during the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Listening Session in advance of the Seventy-second World Health Assembly to be held in Geneva on May 20-28, 2019.
KEI Statement – HHS Listening Session WHA72
11.8 Follow-up to the high-level meetings of the United Nations General Assembly on health-related issues:
Prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases
Documents A72/19 and EB144/2019/REC/1, decision EB144(1)
My name is Claire Cassedy and I work for Knowledge Ecology International. Today I’ll be commenting specifically on the follow-up to the high-level meeting on the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases.
While there were positive aspects of the Political Declaration adopted as a result of this process such as reaffirmation of the WTO Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health, the declaration also repeatedly encourages industry engagement and private sector partnerships while greatly downplaying conflicts of interests and their inherent risks.
In Document A72/19, item 19 under the section on Follow-up outlines annual and biannual consultations with private sector entities, while making no such specific plans to involve civil society. Indeed while we are pleased to see the commitment to, “promote meaningful civil society engagement,” that commitment is towards the goal of encouraging governments to develop multi sectoral responses to combat NCDs.
We urge the US to support greater inclusion of civil society in efforts to prevent and control NCDs, and to both schedule regular consultations with civil society (as is called for with industry) and to include civil society in discussions with private partners as well, in order to ensure that patients’ perspectives are balanced with those of industry.
The report outlining the follow-up to the high-level meeting on NCDs also cites the commitment to helping Member States strengthen their health systems, which includes, “access to safe, affordable, effective and quality essential diagnostics, medicines, vaccines and technologies, and palliative care.” In order to ensure that access, we urge the US to support initiatives that address high drug prices, including supporting feasibility studies for alternative incentives for R&D innovation that include delinking the price of drugs from R&D costs.