WHO Discusses Polio, Hepatitis C, Vaccines, Affordability 29/01/2016 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (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)The World Health Organization Executive Board noted a number of reports on communicable diseases, such as poliomyelitis, and vaccines. Developing countries underlined the affordability and accessibility of treatments. The board also agreed on the setting up of an open-ended intergovernmental meeting to come to agreement on the organisation’s governance reform. The WHO Executive Board is meeting from 25-30 January. Poliomyelitis WHO lobby during the Executive Board meeting On 28 January, the EB noted a report [pdf] by the WHO on the preparedness, surveillance and response on poliomyelitis. Some countries voiced concerns on the high cost of vaccines, in particular for inactivated poliovirus vaccines, and the shortage of supply, such as Kenya, Egypt, India, Nepal, and Thailand, which called for the vaccine industry, WHO, and GAVI the vaccine alliance, to help overcome the shortage of vaccine and insure vaccine affordability. Namibia for the WHO African regional office (AFRO) also underlined the importance of affordability. Many countries congratulated Nigeria for getting out of the list of endemic countries, with only two countries remaining on the list: Pakistan and Afghanistan. Some countries said they had been polio-free for some time but were wary of the danger coming from refugees or people entering the country from infected neighbouring countries. Global Vaccine Action Plan, HIV, Hep C On 28 January, the EB considered strategies to address HIV [pdf], viral hepatitis [pdf], and sexually transmitted infections [pdf]. The EB also considered a summary [pdf] of the 2015 assessment report of the Global Vaccine Action Pan by the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization. One of the major issues underlined by developing countries was the high prices of new medicines, for example for hepatitis C. Brazil underlined the recent joint purchasing platform with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and South American countries (IPW, Public Health, 18 November 2015). Brazil also proposed recommending that the three strategies be adopted at the next WHA. This was supported by several countries, such as Canada, the United States, Sweden and the Nordic and Baltic countries, Germany, and Cuba. Eritrea, for AFRO, called for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, GAVI, and development agencies to support low and middle-income countries to access Hepatitis C medicines. Pakistan, with the largest global burden of hepatitis C (9 to 10 million), said the country negotiated special prices with manufacturers, which led to it be 99 percent cheaper than those found in producing countries. The Pakistan government also granted new licences to local pharmaceutical industry to produce antivirals even cheaper, the Pakistan representative said. The EB decided to request the WHO secretariat to take into account all the comments provided by members and to finalise the three strategies and submit these along with the resolution to the WHA, recommending endorsement of the strategies. The same issue of prices was raised during the discussions on the Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP). In the discussion of the GVAP, Jordan, for example, said it is now considered as a middle-income country and thus does not benefit from GAVI support. The country had to hold back on the implementation of two vaccines due to lack of financing, the Jordan representative said. Brazil underlined the importance of developing new vaccines, and mentioned the resolution [pdf] on vaccine pricing which was taken at the last WHA. In particular, the resolution calls for member states to increase transparency around vaccine pricing and to explore pooling the procurement of vaccines. Some countries called for price levels for vaccines to be made public, such as Saudi Arabia and Colombia. Thailand said incentive mechanisms to de-link research and development from the cost of vaccines were needed. The report was noted by the EB. Mycetoma On Way to Being Recognised As Neglected Tropical Disease Mycetoma, which, according to the EB document [pdf], is “a chronic, progressively destructive inflammatory disease of the skin, subcutaneous and connective tissue, muscle and bone,” is to be added to the list of neglected tropical diseases, the EB decided on 28 January. The decision will go to the World Health Assembly in May for final approval, according to a source. Egypt, Nigeria and Sudan had tabled a draft resolution [pdf] in particular asking “to include mycetoma among the diseases termed ‘neglected tropical diseases’.” The draft resolution was adopted with an additional paragraph, proposed by the United States, indicating that a mechanism for a process to add tropical diseases be worked on by the WHO secretariat, which confirmed there was currently no defined process. Overview of WHO Reform On 28 January, the EB adopted a draft decision [pdf] on the overview of the WHO reform implementation. The draft decision calls to convene “as soon as possible and no later than April 2016, an open-ended intergovernmental meeting to discuss, review, amend and come to an agreement on the recommendations presented during the Second Open Member States meeting on governance reform…” The decision also requests the WHO director general to submit the results of the meeting to the World Health Assembly in May. The WHO has been implementing an organisation-wide reform, cutting across programmes and priority-setting, governance and management. Image Credits: Catherine Saez Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (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 Catherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com."WHO Discusses Polio, Hepatitis C, Vaccines, Affordability" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.