$2 billion and $147 billion: WHO releases detailed costing estimates for implementing WHO IGWG plan of action
On 21 January 2009, WHO released a document (EB124/16 Add.2) relating to the global strategy and plan of action of the public health, innovation and intellectual strand of its work entitled “Proposed time frames and estimated funding needs“. This document is a costing exercise to “estimate funding needs for the implementation of the plan”. The funding needs document contains a detailed breakdown in Table 1 on the funding required from 2009 to 2015 to “carry out the activities associated with each specific action at two levels: national and international” with this caveat (”Values may not sum as expected because of rounding”).
This document estimates that the total cost by element (excluding research and development) of implementing the plan of action is $2.064 billion US dollars. National level costs constitute 60% of the costs of this $2 billion figure. This document gives detailed estimates of most of the discrete elements contained in the plan of action. For example, $1,980,870 has been estimated to implement element 2.3(c) of the plan of action which states “encourage further exploratory discussions on the utility of possible instruments or mechanisms for essential health and biomedical R&D, including inter alia, an essential health and biomedical R&D treaty”. The proposed time frame for this action is 2008 to 2010.
On element 4.3 (a) which calls for an examination of the “feasibility of voluntary patent pools of upstream and downstream technologies to promote innovation of and access to health products and medical devices”, the document estimates $1 million is needed to implement this item by 2015.
Element 5.3 (a) states “explore and, where appropriate, promote a range of incentive schemes for research and development including addressing, where appropriate, the de-linkage of the cost of research and development and the price of health products, for example through award of prizes, with the objective of addressing diseases which disproportionately affect developing countries”. The budget line for this action item with an end date of 2015 is linked to the budget line in 2.2 (c) which has an estimated funding need of $70,508,930.
On R&D, the funding document states that the
“total costs of undertaking the research and development, innovation and technology transfer, including education of workers and building of infrastructure, might be as US$ 147 000 million [$147 billion US dollars]. The grand total for implementing the global strategy and plan costed here for all Member States from 2009 to 2015 is of the order of US$ 149 000 million, averaging US$ 21 000 million per year”.
Currently, about US$ 160 000 million per year is spent globally on health research and development, of which only about 3% is directed at diseases that disproportionately affect developing countries. The cost of US$ 147 000 million over seven years for the global strategy and plan of action will meant that, over the same period, 12% of the expected global total of research and development spending will now be used against these diseases”.