On Tuesday, 31 January 2023, Arianna Schouten delivered this constituency statement on behalf of Knowledge Ecology International, Health Action International, Oxfam, Public Services International, and the World Council of Churches on the following topic: “12.1 – Strengthening WHO preparedness for and response to health emergencies” at the 152nd session of the World Health Organization’s Executive Board.
We support provisions in the pandemic treaty that require companies to disclose prices and contractual terms for public procurement in times of pandemics, and that treaty members collaborate to collect and publish information on R&D costs, public sector subsidies, patent landscapes, clinical trials, and other items. The WHO needs to develop standards and public repositories for the information.
Governments should use appropriate exceptions to intellectual property rights permitted in existing international trade agreements and treaties. One model is the WIPO Marrakesh Treaty for the Blind, which mandates its members to use exceptions to enhance global access to works made accessible to persons who are blind or have other disabilities.
The treaty should create two types of obligations on governments that are triggered by the declaration of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. One, governments should condition public R&D funding on agreements to share intellectual property rights and provide meaningful technology transfer. Two, governments should cooperate to mandate, subsidize and incentivize the private sector to engage in technology transfer to qualified entities, even when that knowledge is not financed by the public sector.
In some cases, second best solutions should be considered. If governments cannot reach consensus on global sharing of know-how, cell-lines and rights in data and inventions, pooling mechanisms can be implemented on a share and share alike basis, benefiting those members who join the pool.
Health workers’ safety and health must be prioritized, including with due application of the
precautionary principle for infection prevention and control.
With respect to the IHR process, we support the Africa Group’s proposal to establish a “repository for cell-lines to accelerate the production and regulation of similar biotherapeutics products and vaccines” and the Africa Group’s call for pricing transparency requirements for manufacturers, and obligations to “share the technologies, know-how for the diversification of production”.
We need to learn from the failures that have accompanied the current pandemic response in order to create a better global framework for cooperation.