Statement |

MSF at WHO's Open-Ended Meeting on CEWG - Agenda Item 5 (e)

MSF at WHO's Open-Ended Meeting on CEWG - Agenda Item 5 (e): Policy Coherence in Health R&D

Speaker: Judit Rius Sanjuan

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.  

Agenda Item 5 (e): Policy Coherence in Health R&D

The lack of policy coherence of health R&D is a major challenge. In recognition of this, the UN Secretary General recently launched a high level panel on access to medicines to offer recommendations that may address this incoherence.
The WHO already has developed a set of principles, under the CEWG, which can be applied to address policy incoherence. In particular, the CEWG calls for R&D that is needs-driven, evidence based and guided by the core principle of affordability, effectiveness, efficiency and equity. It also notes how R&D can be financed, namely via the progressive de-linkage of the cost of R&D from end prices.

At its core, ‘policy coherence’, as implemented by WHO, assumes that principles and processes that Member States have agreed via the Global Strategy and Plan of Action and the various resolutions on the CEWG should be applied consistently to all the work WHO supports on R&D.

Specifically, MSF has three recommendations to ensure policy coherence:

  • Firstly, CEWG norms and principles should be concretely embedded in all work WHO supports on R&D: including the R&D pillar of the Global Action Plan on AMR and the R&D Blueprint for Action to Prevent Epidemics.

  • Secondly, if WHO participates in any R&D collaboration or initiative inside or outside of WHO, it must ensure that it explicitly promotes the progressive realization of the CEWG norms and principles as stated above.

  • Thirdly, the WHO must work towards implementing all recommendations of the CEWG, and especially introducing a coherent global Agreement that combines the different elements and recommendations into an overarching framework.

On an operational level:

  • WHO can also work with Member States, who can support policy coherence by promoting and adhering to these principles in all their biomedical R&D activities. In such collaborations, WHO can convene Member States, issue technical guidance, develop model legislation and highlight best practice for needs-driven R&D funded by Member State (and non-state actors). WHO can also encourage information sharing between Member States.

  • WHO can participate in multilateral and multi-stakeholder initiatives on health R&D to promote the progressive realization of CEWG principles, including working with other UN agencies to issue normative guidance.

  • WHO can incubate and launch new R&D partnerships that adhere to such principles, such as the recently launched Global Antibiotic Research & Development (GARD).

In short, there is much opportunity and scope for WHO to make a positive contribution towards policy coherence.