U.S. nixed India’s plea on reforms in medicine
At the 140th World Health organization(WHO) executive board meeting, India along with 11 South East Asian countries have proposed a discussion on Access to Medicines report by the United Nations High Level Panel.
The report had recommended reforms in funding of biomedical research and development.
What the report addresses:
The High-level panel was established to suggest solutions that address the existing incoherencies between international human rights, trade, intellectual property and public health objectives.
The report calls for a fresh global deal that helps reduce the health innovation and access gap. This can dramatically improve the lives of millions around the world.
The rising costs of technologies related to health and the lack of tools that can tackle health problems, like antimicrobial resistance, a problem that impacts both the rich and poor countries alike.
On one side the world is witnessing advancements in health care, on the other side gaps exist in addressing the existing disease burden across countries and communities. This can be attributed to the existing misalignment between the right to health on one hand and intellectual property on the other.
There exists lack of incentives for innovation in health care, specifically for neglected population, rare diseases and antimicrobial resistance which is a threat to humanity.
The panel also examined how flexibilities provided in TRIPS agreement have facilitated access to health. The report also noted how governments are subjected to undue political and economic pressure to forgo the use of TRIPS flexibilities.
Opposition to India’s proposal:
A revelation under the Freedom of Information Act reveals that the US government has opposed the inclusion of agenda items that were proposed by India. These proposals are aimed towards reforming medical innovation.
During the WTO TRIPS council discussions on the Access to Medicine report, India delivered a statement which urged member nations to discuss the recommendations of the report.
The delay by WHO to include the recommendations of the UN high level panel on its agenda for discussion in the executive board has drawn criticism the world over.
The Panel also recommended that the UN General Assembly convene a special session on health technology innovation and access, to formulate strategies and create an accountability framework that will accelerate efforts towards promoting innovation and ensuring access. This is in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.