ECOSOC Tackles HIV/AIDS, NCDs, Science & Tech For Development

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The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) yesterday took action on reports pertaining to HIV/AIDS, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), and science and technology for development.

HIV/AIDS

In a decision on the Joint United Nations Programme on Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (E/2013/L.32), the Council took note of the report of the executive director of UNAIDS and adopted a resolution urging UNAIDS to continue supporting and fully implementing the 2011 Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS.

According to UN sources, India, the current chair of the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board, said on behalf of a group of countries that despite progress made in preventing new HIV infections, critical challenges remain and new infections continue to rise in some countries. The adoption of the resolution emphasized that the need for HIV/AIDS response to be a part of the post-2015 development agenda at the UN.

NCDs

The Council also reached a decision to request the secretary-general to establish the UN Interagency Task Force on the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).

According to a WHO press release, the task force will coordinate the activities of all UN organisations to implement the WHO Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs 2013-2020, adopted by the World Health Assembly in May 2013.

The Action Plan “provides a road map and menu of policy options” to work towards nine voluntary global targets. Among these is the “25 by 25” goal, which aims for a 25 percent reduction in premature mortality from cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases by 2025.

Science and Technology for Development

Three recommendations, contained in the report of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development (E/2013/31) were also adopted during the 22 July session.

The first recommendation was on the assessment of progress made in the implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS); the second covered science, technology and innovation for development; and the third recommendation was on the report of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development on its 16th session and provisional agenda and documentation for the 17th session of the commission.

The resolution on science, technology and innovation for development (E/2013/31) recommended that the Commission on Science and Technology for Development and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) be encouraged to continue its role “as a torch-bearer for innovation.” It also should provide advice to the Council and the General Assembly on “relevant” science, technology and engineering for innovation issues, “raise awareness among policymakers about the process of innovation,” and “identify particular opportunities for developing countries to benefit from such innovation.”

The Commission should “provide a forum for building repositories of best practices, successful local innovation models, case studies and experience on the use of science, technology and engineering for innovation in symbiotic relationship with information and communications technologies for sustainability,” the resolution said.

Regarding developing urban sectors in least-developed countries (LDCs) and small island states, the resolution encouraged the Commission to raise awareness among urban policymakers about the roles of science, technology, and innovation could play in “facilitating integrated regional planning.”

Miguel Palomino de la Gala (Peru), chair of the 16th session of the Commission on Science and Technology, said, according to UN sources, that investment in science and technology, and particularly information technology, has a positive impact on development by offering solutions to challenges such as sustainable development.

Chair de la Gala pointed to local knowledge as being “crucial to developing science and technology solutions” to address local challenges. While finding innovative business models to finance and capitalise on development opportunities are said to be “a key element”, de la Gala also said greater efforts are needed to foster technological know-how and innovation capabilities in developing countries.

Communication technology and broadband access could serve as “empowering mechanisms for development,” bridging the digital divide. He recommended that access to information and communication technology “should form an intrinsic part of the promotion of investment in science and technology capabilities through a global partnership for development,” according to UN sources.

South Africa said that often, property rights prevent the access of the most needed to the products of science, according to the UN press release. Along the same lines, Venezuela voiced its support for more cooperation and transfer of technology to more fairly distribute ICTs. Open software and open databases were said to be necessary to strengthen science, technology and information activities. Venezuela also highlighted the importance of the protection of traditional knowledge.

Brittany Ngo is currently completing her Master’s in Health Policy and Global Health at the Yale School of Public Health and previously obtained a Bachelor’s of Arts in Economics from Georgetown University. Through her studies she has developed an interest in health-related intellectual property issues. She is a summer intern at Intellectual Property Watch.

Brittany Ngo may be reached at info@ip-watch.ch.

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