WHO Intergovernmental Working Group On IP Ready “In Days” 23/06/2006 by Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a 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)An intergovernmental working group on intellectual property rights mandated by the May World Health Assembly is expected to be set up “in the next few days,” according to World Health Organization sources. The WHA resolution adopted in May called for the committee to be created “immediately,” and supporters are getting eager to see the issue moving. Meanwhile, wrangling is underway over the committee’s representation and mandate, sources said. Questions remain as to whom from the WHO, other intergovernmental organisations, governments, the private sector and non-profits would serve on the committee. A WHO source told Intellectual Property Watch on 21 June that the WHO is deciding on its team of people who will be associated with the group, whose focus will be intellectual property rights, innovation and public health. The WHO had a meeting on the issue on 23 June and another meeting is scheduled for Monday 26 June, the source said. But although a decision may be reached then, it may take at least a week for it to be published, the source said. At this stage it is only the WHO that is working on its mandate regarding the group, but it will be “open to all interested member states,” according to the resolution adopted on 27 May 2006 (IPW, Public Health, 27 May 2006). The resolution is entitled, “Public health, innovation, essential health research and intellectual property rights: towards a global strategy and plan of action” (WHA59.24, Agenda item 11.11). It calls for the drafting of a global plan of action for improving access to medicines in poor countries. Member Governments to Lead The new chair of the WHO Executive Board, Fernando Antezana Araníbar of Bolivia, told Intellectual Property Watch that the government officials would “appoint representatives” who would represent the views of the governments. This could mean organising two or three committees or regional units, he said, emphasising that the scheme should be “clear and flexible” and represent the views of every WHO member state. The resolution also requests the director general to invite intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations as observers to the sessions. It further requests him to, “invite experts and a limited number of concerned public and private entities to attend the sessions of the intergovernmental working group and to provide advice and expertise, as necessary, upon request of the chair, taking into account the need to avoid conflicts of interest.” Araníbar said that the appointment of these representatives was not the task of the WHO secretariat at the moment but rather would be done by the working group when it first met. A date for the first meeting still remains to be set, but Araníbar said the idea was to “have something this year before the Executive Board meeting in January.” The working group’s mandate is to “draw up a global strategy and plan of action in order to provide a medium-term framework based on the recommendations of the commission [the WHO Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation and Public Health (CIPIH)].” The CIPIH published its report in April 2006 (IPW, Public Health, 3 April 2006). The resolution setting up the working group merged a draft resolution based on the CIPIH report as well as one draft resolution based on a Brazil and Kenya suggestion for a global framework on essential health research and development (EB117 R13). Preparing a Framework Araníbar said that the WHO secretariat is preparing the framework for the working group at the moment. This involves providing the documents, background and deciding on the “scope of discussion” that will apply to the group in the future. The WHO secretariat is doing this based on the expectations and recommendations of the General Assembly and the Executive Board, he said, emphasising that the role of the secretariat is to “support and assist the member states.” The WHO also is addressing the fact that previously, the discussion of intellectual property and public health was held in a group of experts (the CIPIH) which has completed its work, and now will be discussed by governments, he said. The WHO director general also is requested “to allocate the necessary resources to” the group, according to the resolution. As the resolution was adopted by the WHA, Araníbar said there should be sufficient funding. Names of which official within the WHO might be in charge of the group have been circulating, but the WHO source told Intellectual Property Watch that a team of people who would be working on this issue is being appointed, and there was thus less focus on the person who would head it. WHO names to head the group that have been floated are Robert Ridley, director of the UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, and Howard Zucker, WHO assistant director general for health technology and pharmaceuticals (IPW, Public Health, 31 May 2006). Kenya to Inquire about Status of Committee A Kenyan official told Intellectual Property Watch on 22 June that he had not heard any news from the WHO regarding the group. Referring to the reference to “immediately” in the resolution, the official said: “They are a bit late, and there is no news on what they are doing.” The official pointed out that the working group was established by the resolution, and the acting director general is only supposed to set a date for the first meeting. As WHO Acting Director General Anders Nordström is new, Kenya was planning on giving the WHO more time, but plans to contact the organisation next week to inquire about progress on the group, an official said. The Swiss chair of the technical group that drafted the resolution at the WHA, Gaudenz Silberschmidt of the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health, told Intellectual Property Watch that the working group is now at the stage of an “internal preparation” within the WHO. He said one “should not underestimate what it takes” and one should “give them a few weeks” to finalise this task. Silberschmidt said that the group would be open to all according to WHA procedures for such groups. 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 "WHO Intergovernmental Working Group On IP Ready “In Days”" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.