Speech |

MSF Intervention at 126th WHO EB on MDGs

Intervention by Médecins Sans Frontières
126th WHO Executive Board

Speaker: Michelle Childs, Director of Policy and Advocacy at MSF's Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines

Thank you Chair.

The DG noted in her report that there has been some progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals, but that it is uneven, fragile and threatened by uncertain funding.

Unprecedented efforts have given four million people living with HIV access to treatment, but 10 million more have been left behind. The gaps in maternal and childhood health services, including emergency obstetric care and vaccinations against pneumonia and even measles, desperately need to be addressed. As the Secretariat has pointed out, without better diagnostics and medicines, we will not be able to meet the MDG for tuberculosis.

In relation to MDGs 1 and 4, the World Bank recently estimated that $12.5 billion is needed annually to scale up effective nutrition programs globally, including therapeutic and complementary feeding at community level, for the three to five million young children killed by malnutrition each year.

Barely four years after world leaders met at the 2006 United Nations General Assembly and committed to universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care, political and funding support is retreating. We are already witnessing the early signs of the effects of such retreat in treatment programmes in a number of African countries. The goal of universal access is also threatened by the effects of the global economic and financial crisis.

In relation to the Resolution, there are additional points that need to be included. A reference should be inserted on the need to implement the Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property, ensuring adequate innovation and access to the health technologies needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

Médecins Sans Frontières urges WHO to play a leading role in monitoring and reporting on the health programmes that are at risk from the effects of the economic and financial crisis, and in estimating the financial gaps that remain.

We ask the Executive Board to highlight the need for Member States to make additional pledges to increase funding for health-related MDGs, ahead of the forthcoming MDG plenary and Global Fund replenishment conferences. WHO should play a leading role in ensuring that health needs are addressed in ongoing discussions on innovative finance mechanisms such as financial transaction taxes.

Finally, the MDG Gap Task Force Report 2009 states that action is also required at the national and international levels to improve the accessibility and affordability of essential medicines, including the use of TRIPS flexibilities, such as high patentability criteria and compulsory licensing, and the establishment of patent pools, such as the patent pool for HIV medicines currently being set up by UNITAID. By ensuring a competitive supply for essential medicines, such measures will enable funds to stretch as far as possible to meet needs and contain costs.

Thank you for Chair.