EB140: Statement of India on the Report of the United Nations High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines

On the morning of Monday, 23 January 2017, India delivered the following intervention at the 140th session of the World Health Organization's Executive Board requesting the "explicit inclusion" of the United Nations Secretary-General's High-Level Panel Report in the "provisional agenda of the EB140 as a separate agenda item under item 8."

In making the case for the inclusion of the UN HLP in the WHO's Executive Board deliberations, India articulate the following:

If the EB140 does not discuss the report, WHO risks losing its leadership on such a vital global health issue. This would be a serious set back to its credibility and integrity, particularly when it is trying to justify an increase in its programme budget.

The WTO TRIPS Council, the UNAIDS PCB and even the Human Rights Council have already initiated discussions on the report. It would be simply inconceivable and inexcusable that WHO, which has a constitutional mandate to set and coordinate global R&D efforts and which is the main UN agency that should be at the forefront of the access to medicines agenda, does not discuss and take appropriate follow-up actions on the UN High Level Panel report.

We believe that an informed discussion, with an open mind, on the UN High-Level Panel will allow Member States to consider potential innovative approaches to address some of the persistent challenges to access to medicines and provide appropriate directions to WHO to carry forward its work on health innovation and access.

Please see below for the full intervention.


Source: (Permanent Mission of India, http://pmindiaun.org/adminpart/uploadpdf/geneva.pdf)

Permanent Mission of India
Geneva

Statement by India on the Provisional Agenda item 2 - Adoption of the Agenda -at the Executive Board Meeting of the WHO delivered by Dr. Sumit Seth, First Secretary on 23 January 2017

Document EB140/1 (Provisional Agenda item 2)

Thank you Mr. Chair

The delegation of India is taking the floor to raise an important concern on the issue of non-inclusion of a specific agenda item on ‘Report of the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Access to Medicines’ on the agenda of the 140th Executive Board Meeting.

India made a formal submission to the Executive Board Bureau seeking a discussion on the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Access to Medicines. This was supported by all Member States of the South-East Asia Region, as well as by Brazil, Iran and South Africa.

We are disappointed that a proposal that has such wide support and that is at the core of WHO’s mandate and that is so topical and relevant was simply ignored by the EB Bureau without giving any explanation.

The report of the High Level Panel addresses some of the long-standing problems facing medical innovation and access to medicines. The UN Secretary General has welcomed the report and called for broader discussions on its findings and recommendations. The recent UNGA resolution on Global Health and Foreign Policy also encourages member states and relevant UN agencies to discuss the report.

The WTO TRIPS Council, the UNAIDS PCB and even the Human Rights Council have already initiated discussions on the report. It would be simply inconceivable and inexcusable that WHO, which has a constitutional mandate to set and coordinate global R&D efforts and which is the main UN agency that should be at the forefront of the access to medicines agenda, does not discuss and take appropriate follow-up actions on the UN High Level Panel report.

WHO has produced some landmark reports on access to medicines and has also submitted its inputs to the High-Level Panel. It is only appropriate, therefore, that the report of the High-Level Panel is discussed formally by Member States within WHO.

If the EB140 does not discuss the report, WHO risks losing its leadership on such a vital global health issue. This would be a serious set back to its credibility and integrity, particularly when it is trying to justify an increase in its programme budget.

The debate on medical innovation and access to medicines is no longer confined to so called Neglected Tropical Diseases. The emergence of Anti-microbial Resistance, Ebola and Zika virus outbreaks have demonstrated the failure of current R&D model and highlighted the importance of achieving policy coherence. Access to Hepatitis C, new anticancer drugs and other NCDs assumes equal importance if we are to achieve the health related SDGs. A global public policy response that rebalances obligations under human rights law with obligations under IP law and address the needs of all countries, in particular those of developing countries, is urgently needed.

We believe that an informed discussion, with an open mind, on the UN High-Level Panel will allow Member States to consider potential innovative approaches to address some of the persistent challenges to access to medicines and provide appropriate directions to WHO to carry forward its work on health innovation and access. Hence, India would like to reiterate its request and would like to see an explicit inclusion of the UNSG’s High-Level Panel report in the provisional agenda of the EB140 as a separate agenda item under item 8.

We hope that this Executive Board will make a responsible decision on this important issue and suitably amend the provisional agenda.

I thank you.