136th WHO Executive Board
Agenda item 10.4
Follow-up of the report of the Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development: Financing and Coordination
Speaker: Katy Athersuch, Medical Access and Innovation Policy Advisor
Médecins Sans Frontières is concerned by the lack of action by WHO and Member States in the face of clear and urgent recommendations in the CEWG report to address the collective under-investment in research and development to meet developing country health needs.
The high price we pay for ignoring the multiple market failures in our R&D model has recently been brought into focus. We have been caring for Ebola patients in West Africa as if we were living before the advent of modern medicine: no vaccines and no treatments.
At this Executive Board we must not fail to connect the dots. The failings of our innovation model are evident in the looming crisis of antimicrobial resistance and the woeful inadequacies in available treatments for drug-resistant tuberculosis. It’s essential that Member States view these problems holistically to generate tangible long-term solutions.
The CEWG report presents a proposal for a voluntary fund within the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR). The extent to which a fund could provide ‘a sustainable financial mechanism for health research and development’ depends on its governance and funding structures. We are concerned that the proposed voluntary contribution models will be inadequate for this task. Financing models that ensure funding is long-term, sustainable and sufficient must be developed to avoid creating empty structures.
We call on the WHO Secretariat and Member States to focus on the open-ended meeting of Member States ahead of the 69th World Health Assembly and the need to agree to a sustainable framework that comprehensively addresses the persistent R&D challenges of diseases that primarily affect developing countries. As the report noted, finding solutions to the collective under-investment in R&D to meet developing country health needs is the responsibility of developed and developing countries alike in an interdependent world.