MSF Statement: WHA74 Agenda Item 13.4 concerning the draft resolution, “Strengthening local production of medicines and other health technologies to improve access.”
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) welcomes the draft resolution.
The control of intellectual property, manufacturing, know-how and technologies among a few multinational pharmaceutical corporations fails to deliver sufficient, equitable and timely access to medicines, vaccines and diagnostics. The geographic concentration of these corporations skews production and supply priorities while crowding out local manufacturers in developing countries. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted these structural issues and the urgent need for World Health Organization (WHO) member states to advance the local production agenda.
The resolution recognizes the importance of enhancing local production to achieve United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and ensure sustainable supply chains during public health emergencies. It unequivocally supports price transparency, reaffirming the WHA72 transparency resolution.
Member states can improve the resolution by developing a concrete implementation plan and addressing three shortcomings:
First, the draft resolution fails to incorporate new options to facilitate local production in a pandemic. Given the recent positions of the US and other countries committing to engage in formal negotiations supporting the World Trade Organization TRIPS waiver proposal, the final text of the draft resolution should reflect this historical development.
Second, the resolution should recognize the inherent limits of voluntary measures in technology transfer and recognize the use of TRIPS flexibilities and other government-led measures as critical to ensure technology transfer. Developed countries should recall the need to concretely implement technology transfer obligations, including in the TRIPS Agreement.
Finally, the draft resolution should recognize public investment and production as essential elements to ensure local production serves public health objectives, with the vision of developing, producing and providing essential health technologies as public goods.