Immediate Action For Global Health Plan Called For At WHO Meeting23/01/2007 by Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a CommentShare this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Much of our best content is available only to IP Watch subscribers. We are a non-profit independent news service, and subscribing to our service helps support our goals of bringing more transparency to global IP and innovation policies. To access all of our content, please subscribe now.By Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen A proposal at the World Health Organization (WHO) for early gains on a global plan for improving treatments for overlooked diseases has been tabled at a high-level meeting this week. Intellectual property rules are among the proposed early actions.The proposal was put forward by Kenya and Switzerland in the form of a resolution (EB120/Conf. Paper No.3) on the first day of the 22-30 January meeting of the WHO Executive Board. The board consists of 34 member countries, including Kenya.The agenda item under which the draft resolution will be discussed is expected to come up later this week, sources said.The aim of the draft resolution, “Public health, innovation, and intellectual property: towards a global strategy and plan of action,” is, according to informed sources, to start working in areas where immediate action is possible, right away. The resolution makes reference to the “need to act quickly.”The aim is for the new resolution to be agreed at this meeting and forwarded to the World Health Assembly in May for adoption. The resolution would then be in place until the global plan of action is ready in May 2008, a source said.The global strategy and plan of action for boosting research and development into medicines for “diseases that disproportionately affect developing countries” was called for in an earlier resolution (WHA59.24) from the World Health Assembly almost a year ago.As a result, an intergovernmental working group (referred to as the “IGWG”) was set up and held its first meeting on 4-8 December 2006 (IPW, Public Health, 11 December 2006). This group was asked to report to the 60th World Health Assembly in May on progress, “giving particular attention to needs-driven research and other potential areas for early implementation action.”There was not enough time to identify these early implementation areas at the December meeting, but the Kenya/Switzerland resolution now picks this up.On intellectual property in the new resolution, the WHO director general is requested to “provide support to countries so that, through patenting and licensing policies and respecting international obligations, they may maximise the availability of innovations, including research tools and platform technologies, in order to develop products of relevance to public health, particularly to conditions prevalent in developing countries.”The resolution also requests WHO to, “continue to monitor, from a public-health perspective, the impact of intellectual property rights and other factors” on the development of treatments for these diseases.In general, WHO is asked to identify gaps in ongoing research and development of medicines for neglected diseases and to bring together various partners in this field in “a standing forum” to enhance coordination and ensure “more organised sharing of information.”The resolution also requests WHO to promote partnerships on compound libraries (collections of possible building blocks for medicines) as well as patent pools and upstream technologies for these diseases; to strengthen clinical trials procedures in developing countries, including improving ethical-review standards; to help developing countries with national programmes for health research; and to collaborate with stakeholders to promote public-private partnerships. Many of the suggestions appear to strengthen WHO programmes already in place.Member states are urged to “contribute actively” to the development of the global strategy and plan and to report voluntarily to WHO on their respective activities on the recommendations of the WHO Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation and Public Health. It published its report in April 2006, which was the starting point for the current process.Report from December MeetingThe new resolution will be discussed under “technical and health matters,” and agenda item 4.14.Under this item, a progress report (EB120/INF.DOC./1) from the December working group meeting also will be presented. The report also focuses on areas for early implementation, but is more comprehensive. The items in the report were suggested by member states, but have not been endorsed, as time did not permit this issue to be discussed at the December meeting, the report said.The report encourages countries to “seek through patenting and licensing policies to maximise the availability of innovations,” and states that public financing bodies should “introduce policies aimed at ensuring sound patent and licensing practices.”The report also notes that patent pools and upstream technologies may be useful in promoting innovation beneficial to developing countries.Public private partnerships and open source methods are among the suggestions for boosting development of medicines, and on delivery, it says companies should “avoid filing patents or enforcing them in ways that might inhibit access” in low-income countries, and should be encouraged to grant voluntary licenses in developing countries. Stricter IP requirements than those found in international trade law also should be avoided in bilateral deals, the report says.The current member countries of the Executive Board are: Afghanistan, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bhutan, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Denmark, Djibouti, El Salvador, Iraq, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Latvia, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mali, Mexico, Namibia, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Singapore, Slovenia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, Turkey and the United States.Tove Gerhardsen may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Share this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Related"Immediate Action For Global Health Plan Called For At WHO Meeting" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.