UN Urged To Emphasize Health Over Profit At Upcoming UN High-Level Meeting On NCDs 06/07/2018 by David Branigan, Intellectual Property Watch 2 Comments 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)An open letter sent by 242 organisations and individuals to key United Nations and World Health Organization representatives on 4 July demanded that high prices limiting access to medicines and effective treatment be addressed at the upcoming UN High-Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases. The High-Level Meeting on NCDs will be held at the UN in New York on 27 September. Member state negotiations are currently taking place over the “Zero Draft” of the High-Level Political Declaration on NCDs. [Update] As part of the process of engaging relevant stakeholders, the UN held an interactive civil society hearing on 5 July to provide the opportunity for stakeholders to share their priorities and contribute to the preparations for the High-Level Meeting on NCDs. The program for the interactive hearing can be found here [pdf], and the webcast can be viewed on UN Web TV here. “The zero draft … will be the subject of intense negotiations with countries adding and deleting text over the next four weeks,” according to a statement by United For Affordable Cancer Treatment (UACT), one of the signatories of the letter. “UACT is appalled that the draft UN political declaration on non-communicable diseases makes no reference to the soaring prices for cancer medications – prices that are unsustainable even for wealthy countries,” Manon Anne Ress, founder and director of UACT, said in the statement. The open letter [pdf], written by Mohga Kamal–Yanni, senior health advisor at Oxfam, was co-signed by “242 civil society, advocacy organisations, academics and activists concerned with access to medicines, human rights and health around the world.” The open letter calls for “progressive, renewed and accelerated commitments to the prevention, treatment and control of NCDs,” and raises concern “that commitments to affordable medicines and health technologies are not sufficiently addressed in the Zero Draft of the Political Declaration for the HLM on NCDs.” While the letter welcomes the language in the Zero Draft calling for strengthening health systems, it highlights the need for the draft to “emphasize the primacy of people’s health over commercial profit and to strengthen the approach toward the affordability of medicines and health technologies.” To that effect, the letter recognizes private sector contributions toward improving access to medicines and treatment for NCDs. However, it expresses concern “about the lack of accountability of the private sector, and the high potential for conflicts of interest and undue pressure on Member States … that wish to use TRIPS flexibilities.” The letter makes three recommendations for how the political declaration can prioritise public health needs: “Reiterating that States are primarily responsible for creating the conditions that improve access to medicines as a human right… Considering all commercial determinants of health, including pharmaceutical companies and the impact of their monopolies… Recognising the importance of meaningful engagement with people living with and at risk for NCDs…” The open letter was addressed to Sebastiano Cardi, ambassador and permanent representative of Italy to the UN, and Elbio Rosselli, ambassador and permanent representative of Uruguay to the UN, the co-facilitators leading the intergovernmental consultations and negotiations in preparation for the High-Level Meeting on NCDs in September. CCed are Miroslav Jenča, president of UN General Assembly, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director general, Achim Steiner, UN under-secretary-general and administrator of the UN Development Programme, and Dainius Pūras, special rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health. David Branigan graduated in May 2018 from the Studley Graduate Program in International Affairs at The New School. His research is focused at the intersection of technology, public policy and human rights. Image Credits: TaxRebate.org.uk 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 David Branigan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org."UN Urged To Emphasize Health Over Profit At Upcoming UN High-Level Meeting On NCDs" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.