MSF at WHO's Open-Ended Meeting on CEWG - Agenda Item 5 (a-d): Progress on implementing WHA 66.22; Blueprint, AMR GAP, UNHLP
Speaker: Helle Aagaard
At the 68th World Health Assembly, resolution 66.22 requested the Director-General to convene an open-ended meeting of Member States prior to the 69th World Health Assembly, in order to assess progress and continue discussions of the Consultative Expert Working Group (CEWG) on the remaining issues in relation to monitoring, coordination and financing for health research and development. The three-day meeting takes place from 2nd to 4th May 2016 at WHO Headquarters.
As Member States come together for this open-ended meeting, it is critical to reflect on the extent to which change is urgently needed and what has happened since 2012. An Ebola outbreak has rampaged through West Africa, killing 11,000 people, with a complete lack of approved drugs and vaccines with which to treat and prevent it and inadequate diagnostic tools. Antibiotic resistance remains a threat all over the world, including in MSF field operations from Haiti to Jordan. High prices of medicines is now a global concern, with expensive hepatitis C drugs either straining health care budgets or requiring people to wait for treatment until their condition takes a turn for the worse. All these issues are interlinked.
In 2012, the CEWG set a roadmap for financing research and development to meet the needs of people in developing countries, including a recommendation for a global agreement to set norms for R&D, ensure sustainable financing, prioritization, coordination and crucially innovation with access. It also recommended that R&D must be de-linked, needs-driven, evidence-based and ensure affordability, efficacy, equity – and be considered a shared responsibility.
The events of the last four years have reaffirmed the CEWG’s findings and stressed that significant measures must be taken by all countries. Since 2012, a range of new processes and commitments have emerged, including the WHO R&D blueprint; the Global Action Plan for AMR; and the UN Secretary General HLP on access to medicines.
MSF offers three observations on these processes:
First, there is a need to address the same structural problem: our sole dependence upon an R&D model which relies on high prices and market monopolies for its financing.
Second, introducing new initiatives should not undermine the CEWG, nor leave it behind. These initiatives must be thought of in a holistic manner – Member States must connect the dots to ensure that the approaches taken in these initiatives are underpinned by the CEWG principles, and to ensure the CEWG frames and guides all other discussions and processes.
Third, this meeting is an opportunity to make concrete commitments moving forward on the central recommendation of the CEWG, which was to put in place a framework or Agreement to guide how needs-driven R&D can be done.
Member States should act with greater urgency, both to address the crises of the present, and the challenges of the future.