WHA Committees Approve Plans On Antimicrobial Resistance, Vaccines, Innovation 25/05/2015 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)Today, member states in committee at the World Health Assembly adopted the first global plan of action to address the issue of antimicrobial resistance, and a global plan of action on vaccines. In addition, a mechanism on public health, innovation and intellectual property was postponed until 2022, and a deadline for its evaluation moved to 2018. WHA68 committee actionPhoto credit: Eimear Murphy The resolutions had been postponed last week to allow for informal consultations to find agreement. Tomorrow, the draft resolutions will go to the full plenary for final approval. Separately, delegates are still trying to work out common language on a framework of engagement with “non-state actors”. The issue is expected to be discussed again tomorrow, the last day of the WHA. The annual World Health Assembly is meeting from 18-26 May. Antimicrobial Resistance: ‘Let’s Go and Work Guys’! The draft resolution [pdf] on resistance to antibiotics adopted today requests that the WHO work with the Strategic and Technical Advisory Group on antimicrobial resistance member states, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Organization for Animal Health, and “other relevant partners” to develop a framework for monitoring and evaluation. At issue is the worldwide rise in resistance to antibiotics, due in part to overuse, such as through self-prescribing and their presence in commercial animal products consumed by humans. The resolution also instructs the WHO “to develop, in consultation with Member States and relevant partners, options for establishing a global development and stewardship framework to support the development, control, distribution and appropriate use of new antimicrobial medicines, diagnostic tools, vaccines and other interventions, while preserving existing antimicrobial medicines, and promoting affordable access to existing and new antimicrobial medicines and diagnostic tools, taking into account the needs of all countries, and in line with the global action plan on antimicrobial resistance, and to report to the sixty-ninth World Health Assembly.” The resolution contains language that recognises the special needs of low- and middle-income countries, noting, for example that “despite sustained efforts over a number of decades by Member States, the Secretariat and partners, most developing countries are still facing a multitude of challenges in improving affordability and universal access to quality, safe and effective antimicrobial medicines and diagnostic tools.” The resolution also requests that WHO provide support and technical assistance to countries, with a specific focus on low and middle-income countries. Sweden, which had co-chaired informal discussions, said the concerns was the specific financial assistance and universal access to medicines of low and middle-income countries. WHO Director General Margaret Chan hailed the adoption of the resolution. She said the WHA had taken an “historical step” and noted that WHO will work closely with all actors, citing in particular civil society and academics. “We need everybody and everyone can make a contribution to this historical achievement,” exclaimed Chan. “What a historical momentum we have started. Let’s go and work guys!” India remarked that antimicrobial resistance is “not merely a health challenge but a developmental challenge,” in particular for the low and middle-income countries. The need for ensuring access to affordable antimicrobials, diagnostics and vaccine is critical, the delegate said. The draft Global Plan of Action includes five strategic objectives: “(1) to improve awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance; (2) to strengthen knowledge through surveillance and research; (3) to reduce the incidence of infection; (4) to optimize the use of antimicrobial agents; and (5) to ensure sustainable investment in countering antimicrobial resistance.” Global Plan of Action on PH, Innovation and IP Extended Also today, a draft resolution was adopted in committee extending the WHO Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property (GSPA), after informal consultations led to agreed language for the resolution. The resolution extends the timeframe of the plan of action from 2015 until 2022. It also extends to 2018 the deadline of an overall programme review of the global strategy on its achievement, remaining challenges and recommendations on the way forward. The resolution instructs to undertake a comprehensive evaluation and overall programme review “in a staggered manner,” as described in the report on GSPA by the secretariat, WHO document A68/35. The document initially contained two options for consideration. The first one suggested to combine the evaluation and overall programme review, and the second one to undertake the comprehensive evaluation and the overall review in a separate and staggered manner, starting with the evaluation, and following with the programme review. The WHO is expected to present the terms of reference of the overall programme review for approval by the Executive Board in January 2017, and to present the composition of the overall programme review panel for consideration of the EB Bureau in February 2017. The final report of the overall programme review of the GSPA is expected to be presented at the 71st WHA in 2018, through the 142nd session of the EB. WHO also is expected to establish a panel of 18 experts “respecting gender balance, equal regional representation, and diversity of technical competence and expertise to conduct the overall programme review, with a broad and balanced mix of expertise, practical experience and backgrounds covering the eight elements” of the GSPA, “and including from developed and developing countries.” WHO member states are called to nominate experts, “including through the Regional Directors, for the roster,” following the 139th session of the EB, “from which the Director-General will select the panel of 18 members for the overall programme review.” According to the decision, WHO is to initiate the comprehensive evaluation of the implementation of the GSPA in June 2015. According to several sources, issues that kept delegates in informal discussions included the sequencing of the review process of the GSPA and the choice of the experts to conduct the overall programme review. The resolution also instructs the WHO to convene an ad hoc Evaluation Management Group to assist the comprehensive evaluation composed of six “independent external subject matter experts,” and two evaluation experts from the United Nations Evaluation Group. Switzerland noted that it is important for the country that the evaluation remains as technical an as unpolitical as possible. Global Vaccine Action Plan: More Affordable Vaccines Member states this week have been addressing an assessment of the WHO Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP) aimed at delivering vaccination to all and boosting research into new vaccines. The assessment found implementation to be “far off-track” in some areas. Early in the Assembly, Libya put forward a new proposal at the Assembly to reduce vaccine prices and increase availability in developing countries (IPW, WHO, 19 May 2015). Libya, which chaired the informal discussions to find common language on the resolution, said a number of countries participated in the discussions, including Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, the European Union, Japan, South Africa and the United States. He took the agreement on language as a sign that “we can do anything together.” In particular he underlined the resolution asking for more accessible and affordable vaccines. The US said its concerns about the resolution arose because of the importance of the issue, given the United States’ “enormous investment to address the gap in vaccine coverage.” Canada remarked that the draft resolution had been made available on the morning it was discussed and delegations need “appropriate time” to consider documents. The resolution underlines the importance of competition to reduce prices and the need to expand the number of manufacturers, in particular in developing countries, able to produce WHO-prequalified vaccines and create a competitive market. The resolution calls on member states “to strengthen efforts, as and where appropriate, for pooling vaccine procurement volumes in regional and interregional or other groupings as appropriate that will increase affordability by leveraging economies of scale.” It also asks member states to provide vaccine price data to WHO for publication, so that affordability is increased through improved price transparency and to increase the availability “of comparable information on government funding to vaccine development and work towards strategies that enhance public health benefit from government investments in vaccine development.” The WHO is requested to monitor vaccine prices through annual reporting of the Global Vaccine Action Plan, and “to provide technical support and facilitate financial resources for establishing pooled procurement mechanism….” It also is asked to: “strengthen the WHO prequalification programme and provide technical assistance to support developing countries in capacity building for research and development, technology transfer, and other upstream to downstream vaccine development and manufacturing strategies that foster proper competition for a healthy vaccine market.” Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors without Borders) issued a statement after the vote, saying governments “raised the alarm today on the exorbitant rise in the price to vaccinate a child, and took a decisive step towards addressing the problem by passing a resolution which called for more affordable vaccines and greater transparency of vaccine prices. The resolution was adopted by all member states, with more than 60 countries – including Algeria, Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Lebanon, Libya, Ecuador, Egypt, Indonesia, Niger, Nigeria, South Africa, Thailand, Pakistan, the Philippines, and the Republic of Korea, among others – explicitly stating their support for the resolution and concerns about high vaccine prices during the deliberations.” IP-Watch researcher Eimear Murphy contributed to this report. Image Credits: Eimear Murphy 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."WHA Committees Approve Plans On Antimicrobial Resistance, Vaccines, Innovation" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.