[Ip-health] MSF update: Update on contentious negotiations for the UN High-level Meeting on Tuberculosis

leena menghaney leenamenghaney at gmail.com
Fri Jul 27 04:22:13 PDT 2018

Update on contentious negotiations for the UN High-level Meeting on

South Africa breaks the ‘silence’ period and negotiations are re-opened


For almost two months, countries have been engaged in protracted and heated
negotiations in New York on the draft declaration of the United Nations’
High-level Meeting on TB, which will take place in September in New York.
The near-final draft was submitted on 20 July to the President of the UN
General Assembly and was under the ‘silence procedure’ until 24 July.
Towards the end of negotiations on a resolution or declaration, the draft
is declared to be ‘in silence procedure’ for a specified time. If no
government puts forward an objection by the given deadline, the draft text
is considered ‘agreed.’ When a country breaks the silence, the negotiations

On 24 July, South Africa raised their concern on the draft declaration,
breaking the ‘silence.’

The current text of the draft declaration not only fails to incorporate
public health safeguards that countries can exercise under the World Trade
Organization’s Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property
(TRIPS) to make the treatment affordable, but also includes problematic
language that says ‘intellectual property rights are an important incentive
in the development of new health products’ – which is not true for TB.

The 20 July draft is available here: Link

Quote from Els Torreele, Executive Director of Médecins Sans Frontières’
(MSF) Access Campaign

“MSF applauds South Africa’s courageous decision to speak up and demand
stronger commitments to ensure that existing and future TB diagnostics,
treatments and vaccines reach the hands of the people who need them,
leading to the reopening of negotiations on the draft declaration of the UN
High-level Meeting on TB.

For almost two months, negotiators have been in heated talks that resulted
in a draft declaration that widely diverged from language in previous UN
declarations on health and access to medicines, which had recognized the
need to promote public-interest-driven research and development (R&D) and
ensure that resulting health products are affordable and available for
people. This aggressive push by several countries backed by big pharma
lobbies would severely undercut needed guarantees to protect access to
vital tools and medicines for people living with TB.

We ask countries negotiating the text to urgently provide political support
for the inclusion of language on affordability and ‘de-linkage’ in the
draft, to reflect that investments in TB R&D must be separated from the
expectation of financial returns through sales or high prices. Countries
must also push to retain the full rights to use internationally agreed
public health safeguards enshrined in Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual
Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement for access to affordable, generic
versions of all TB medicines, especially the newer all-oral treatments
needed to scale up treatment of the disease.

It is critical that leaders remember this declaration won’t just live on
paper; it will have real-world consequences for millions of people who need
affordable lifesaving TB medicines.”

Leena Menghaney
Mobile: 9811365412

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