On December 4-5, WHO held a Global Technical Consultative Meeting on Identification of Health R&D Demonstration Projects to select the final list of projects to be taken forward to WHO Executive Board and World Health Assembly in January and May 2014. The group considered 22 projects that had been recommended by WHO member states through a regional selection process.
Two proposals submitted by MSF, one on developing new tuberculosis regimens, and a second on developing a multiplex, open source fever diagnostic, were included in the shortlist of 22 projects, but were ultimately not selected to be taken forward. Although MSF was disappointed with this outcome, it is not our primary concern. MSF is primarily concerned that the process has failed to achieve the fundamental and principal mandate of this initiative and of the larger Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development: Financing and Coordination (CEWG) process, which is to test new models of innovation that challenge the status quo, and, for example, incorporate the principles of open innovation and de-linkage.
Statement from Rohit Malpani, Director of Policy and Analysis for MSF’s Access Campaign:
“MSF doctors in the field witness everyday how the medical innovation system is failing to meet many urgent health needs. This process was meant to be one step towards addressing that failure, and its particularly alarming to see that it has gone so dramatically off-track.
What we wanted was the first stepping stones for change, namely projects that fulfilled the mandate of the CEWG to test new models of innovation.
We are therefore disappointed that the process actually failed to prioritize critical recommendations of the CEWG relating to new models of innovation as primary criteria for consideration.
It is therefore unclear whether WHO’s attempts to work backwards and fix the projects that have been selected is an appropriate approach. MSF calls for Member States and WHO, building upon the efforts of the Expert Committee and prior to the 2014 WHA, to put delinkage and transformative models of innovation back into the heart of the process.”