[Ip-health] MSF intervention at 65th WHA - Agenda item 13.14: Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development: Financing and Coordination

Katy Athersuch katy.athersuch at googlemail.com
Sat May 26 01:38:02 PDT 2012

65th World Health Assembly - agenda item 13.14

Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development: Financing
and Coordination

Intervention by Michelle Childs, Médecins Sans Frontières International
26th May 2012

Médecins Sans Frontières welcomes the report of the CEWG that has built on
a decade’s work at WHO on the need to address the problems of medical
innovation for developing countries. That R&D fails to deliver for the
developing world is a problem MSF cannot ignore.  All too often, the
diagnostic tools, medicines or vaccines we need on a daily basis are
unsuitable, unaffordable or simply unavailable.

The report made a number of recommendations on mechanisms to stimulate R&D.
These should be supported but this cannot be all that is done. The central
conclusion was that in order for these mechanisms to be successful, there
is a need for an overarching framework: a binding convention to ensure that
priorities are set, funding is secured and innovation leads to access.

Unmet needs include: more effective treatments for drug-resistant
tuberculosis; new antibiotics to treat life-threatening infections in the
face of increasing resistance; new treatments and diagnostics for kala
azar, Chagas and sleeping sickness; and vaccines that do not need to be
refrigerated or can be given without an injection.

Undoubtedly, here has been progress in the last 10 years.  But progress is
fragile and ad hoc, it depends on donor philanthropy and corporate social
responsibility.  We need a sustainable solution.

Change is possible.  The CEWG report rightly concludes that multilateral
action is needed. Member States have an opportunity to take a decisive step
and transform R&D for neglected populations.

The difficult economic situation is clear.  But in times of austerity, it
is more important than ever to ensure the mechanisms to fund R&D are
efficient and that innovation delivers products that are immediately
affordable and accessible. MSF’s involvement with Drugs for Neglected
Diseases *initiative* (DNDi) shows it is possible to have a more efficient
model for R&D for drug development and for example through open knowledge
innovation models to secure access for patients, and by delinking the costs
of R&D from the price of products.

It is the responsibility of all governments to act in order to meet these
unaddressed medical needs. This is the fundamental question being asked:
will Member States accept this responsibility and show the required
leadership? A process has been agreed. As it moves forward, it is critical
for all governments to stay focused on designing a new and sustainable
global framework for medical R&D priorities, funding and ensuring the
resulting tools are appropriate, affordable and accessible.

We need collective action and leadership from WHO and from Member States.
The time to start is now, we urge Member States to start this process
without delay.

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