WHO Plans Public Hearing On IP Group By December02/10/2006 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)IP-Watch is a non-profit independent news service and depends on subscriptions. To access all of our content, please subscribe now. You may also offer additional support with your subscription, or donate.By Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen The World Health Organization will organise public consultations for non-governmental stakeholders on a global public health and intellectual property working group most likely in November, according to a senior official.Meetings are being actively held within the WHO secretariat, which has set up a inter-departmental system involving a number of staff dedicated to the issue.This is “one of the projects where the WHO is paying a lot of attention,” WHO’s Elil Renganathan, who is the operational head of the project, told Intellectual Property Watch. “[What we have] ahead of us is extremely challenging but a very important task.”The consultation will provide input in the form of a report for a meeting on the subject open to all member states and others scheduled for 4-8 December, Renganathan, which will be like a “mini-World Health Assembly.”Renganathan said that the WHO would provide information about the exact date and nature of the consultations two weeks in advance, but tentatively they are planned for November. They would involve the general public, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), academics and experts, he said.The IP project in question is an intergovernmental working group that will discuss how research and development may be ensured in the future into medicines for diseases that proportionately affect poor countries, or that are neglected in general (IPW, Public Health, 27 May 2006).The group was mandated by a resolution adopted at this year’s World Health Assembly, and was asked to come up with “a global strategy” and “plan of action” by the assembly in May 2008. Renganathan is optimistic about the outcome. “We will come up with something,” he said.Along the way, the group will report on the progress made and indicate “early implementation action” to the Health Assembly in May 2007. As reporting to the assembly goes through the Executive Board, the group’s first reporting deadline is effectively January 2007, the date of the next board meeting.WHO Seeks to Open Process as Structure EmergesRenganathan emphasised that the WHO, whose role is to remain neutral, wants the process to be “as transparent and open as possible.” Since the May meeting, details on the working group have been scant.Howard Zucker, the assistant WHO director general for health technology and pharmaceuticals, has been appointed the political head of the group. Renganathan is from Malaysia, studied in Germany and has been with the WHO for 10 years. He has experience in research and development, especially into neglected diseases, and was most recently director for the WHO Mediterranean Centre for Vulnerability Reduction in Tunis, Tunisia.Also providing input to the project is a steering group of senior officials from the six regional WHO offices working on the group, he said.Within the WHO secretariat, this is a “cross-cluster initiative” although it is hosted by the technology and pharmaceuticals department. A number of WHO staff are involved in the project, either on a part- or full-time basis, Renganathan said. There is, for example, a technology group consisting of eight people who are participating part time. There are five full-time staff at the WHO involved in setting up the group, he said.Some countries have already started their own work, looking at the research and development framework that is needed for their countries, he said. WHO regional committees have also provided input for the working group, Renganathan said.The resolution states that the working group will be open to all, which means all member states, but also non-member states, liberation movements, intergovernmental groups such as the European Union as well as NGOs, who will take part as observers.The chair will also invite “experts and a limited number of concerned public and private entities to attend the sessions” of the working group to provide advice and expertise, according to the resolution.But first the member states will choose a chair of the group at the December meeting, Renganathan said.This is not the first time the WHO is using the intergovernmental working group model. Renganathan said, citing the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, although that project differed by being legally binding.Renganathan does not believe that the upcoming change at the helm of the WHO in November would threaten the IP project. He referred to the tobacco control framework, which he said was started by Gro Harlem Brundtland but finalised by Lee Jong-wook.Funding also will be a challenge for the group, but for the moment WHO funds are being used, and Renganathan said the project has “quite a bit of funding.” The WHO will provide travel costs for delegates for the December meeting from least developed countries in accordance with UN rules, he said.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"WHO Plans Public Hearing On IP Group By December" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.