[Ip-health] Health Policy Watch: Access To Medicines Postponed; UHC, NTDs & Intellectual Property Feature In Next WHO Executive Board Agenda

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Thu Nov 14 22:48:28 PST 2019


Access To Medicines Postponed; UHC, NTDs & Intellectual Property Feature In
Next WHO Executive Board Agenda
14/11/2019 by Elaine Ruth Fletcher

WHO’s agenda for the next Executive Board (EB) meeting, scheduled for 3-8
February 2020, will see discussions grouped for the first time ever around
the three key pillars of the WHO Global Plan of Work for 2019-2023
including expanding health and wellbeing, protection from health
emergencies, and universal health coverage to one billion more people.

This is an innovation in the way governing board sessions are organized –
but may also help to bring greater focus to debate, organized around key

The decision received a mixed response from access groups wishing to keep
these two issues alive following last year’s approval of the milestone WHA
Resolution on transparency in medicines markets.Proposed EB discussions on
access to gene and cell therapies for cancer and medicines for rare
diseases, requested by South Africa and Peru respectively, will be merged
and postponed until 2021, according to the list of topics to be tackled at
the next EB session included in a note on the EB agenda
<http://apps.who.int/gb/gov/assets/Note_for_the_record-en.pdf> released

“The challenges of providing equal access to the new technologies are
significant, and the WHO needs to engage now. That said, the deferral to
the 2021 Executive Board [meeting] gives everyone more time to prepare and
reflect on the measures needed to address the shocking inequalities of
access,” said James Love, director of Knowledge Ecology International

KEI also welcomed the fact that there will be a discussion of public
health, innovation and intellectual property issues as proposed by Brazil
in the February 2020 meeting.

It is likely that the tight schedule for this year’s governing body
meetings also has created pressure to keep the agendas more limited,
observers noted.

Exceptionally, the next meeting of the Executive Board, which includes some
34 country representatives elected by the World Health Assembly for 3-year
terms, has been scheduled for February. Usually meetings are in the first
month of the year but the schedule has been shifted due to the Lunar New
Year on January 25.

Next year’s WHA meeting in May 2020 will also take place over only 4 ½ days
due to the concurrence of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr, making the
scheduling for that meeting particularly tight.

One change welcomed by civil society has been the publication of more
detailed notes under Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’s
tenure, such as this one, which give an indication of upcoming priorities
and discussion items in the WHO governing boards.

Other key items on the EB agenda will include a discussion of the WHO’s NCD
Action Plan, including an item on the elimination of cervical cancer as a
public health problem, the Roadmap on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs),
healthy ageing, nutrition, WHO’s work in health emergencies, and a global
digital health strategy.

For more details see the Preliminary Draft Agenda of the 146th EB Meeting
and the Note
for the Record
<http://apps.who.int/gb/gov/assets/Note_for_the_record-en.pdf> on the
October 5 EB Meeting.

Thiru Balasubramaniam
Geneva Representative
Knowledge Ecology International
41 22 791 6727
thiru at keionline.org

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