[Ip-health] Joint letter to WHO EB delegates on follow-up of the report of the CEWG on R&D

Joanna Keenan-Siciliano joanna.l.keenan at gmail.com
Fri Jan 25 07:26:18 PST 2013

Joint letter on the occasion of the 132nd session of the WHO Executive
Board: Agenda item 10.2- Follow-up of the report of the Consultative Expert
Working Group on Research and Development: Financing and Coordination

25 January 2013

Distinguished delegate,

We are writing to express our deep concern at the lack of ambition and
apparent inaction of the WHO and Member States in taking forward the work
of the Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development:
Financing and Coordination (CEWG). This inaction is costing lives.

At the open-ended meeting (26-28 November 2012) on the follow-up of the
report of the CEWG, an outcome document (EB132/21) containing a draft
report and draft resolution was produced. The draft report and draft
resolution are now before the Executive Board for consideration under
Agenda item 10.2.

The open-ended meeting was convened to provide Member States with the
opportunity to develop a work plan for taking forward the recommendations
of the CEWG report. This report was part of the implementation of the WHO
Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and
Intellectual Property (GSPOA). The objective of which is to secure “an
enhanced and sustainable basis for needs-driven, essential health research
and development relevant to diseases that disproportionately affect
developing countries”. The CEWG identified the concept of de-linkage as the
over-arching principle in which to secure this objective by de-coupling the
cost of R&D from the price of health technologies including medicines,
vaccines and diagnostic tools. The central recommendation of the CEWG
report that Member States were asked to consider was the development of a
legally binding global convention to address the unmet R&D needs of
developing countries.

Such a global framework is needed to establish a process for identifying
R&D needs, setting priorities, monitoring R&D flows, coordinating R&D
efforts, securing sustainable financing, promoting new incentives and
managing research outputs in a way that ensures both innovation and access.
Given the WHO’s role1 as the directing and co-ordinating authority in
global public health, it is uniquely placed to be the forum for such an

Despite the clear roadmap set out by the Expert Group, the outcome document
produced at the open ended meeting postpones discussion of an R&D
Convention at the WHO, and does not provide a clear agenda for addressing
these pressing unmet R&D needs. The commitments that are made are unclear
and too limted. For example, the establishment of an R&D Observatory could
be a positive first step, but only if the scope of its tasks includes the
definition of R&D priorities in consultation with Member States in addition
to simply monitoring what little is currently being done. The question of
whether this R&D observatory will receive adequate financing to operate
effectively is also an unanswered question.

Moreover, we are seriously concerned that the draft report’s recommends,
“the adoption of the resolution by the WHA without re-opening it”. The
report and the draft resolution were adopted after 2AM, when many lead
negotiators had to fly back to their respective capitals and interpretation
in the World Health Organization’s official languages had long stopped. The
number of Member States present at the time of finalizing the draft report
was less than 25 out of a membership of 194. A draft resolution negotiated
by a small number of Member States under less than ideal conditions should
not include such a far-reaching recommendation to the Executive Board. This
undermines the rights of Member States to have a full discussion at the WHA.

Against this background we ask the distinguished EB Members and other WHO
Member States to reject the recommendation against the reopening of the
draft report and the resolution.

Further, we request WHO Member States to consider the CEWG recommendations
holistically including the central recommendation of the CEWG report which
recommended to Member States that “formal intergovernmental negotiations
should begin for a binding global instrument for R&D and innovation for

Health Action International

Knowledge Ecology International

Médecins Sans Frontières- Access Campaign


Peoples’ Health Movement

Stop AIDS Campaign

Third World Network

Joanna Keenan
Press Officer
Médecins Sans Frontières - Access Campaign
P: +41 22 849 87 45
M: +41 79 203 13 02
E: joanna.keenan[at]geneva.msf.org
T: twitter.com/joanna_keenan


More information about the Ip-health mailing list