WHO 69th World Health Assembly: Agenda item 16.2 – the Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development: Financing and Coordination
Speaker: Judit Rius Sanjuan
As Member States continue negotiating the CEWG, it’s important to note that the warnings and call to action underlined in the report are more relevant now than ever.
The UN Secretary General’s decision to launch a High Level Panel on Access to Medicines underlines that the failings of the R&D system affect everyone. Access to medicines is a global challenge – now a rising political priority for electorates in the EU, US and every country. This is a structural problem that cannot be addressed by countries acting alone. It necessitates global coordination and agreement.
In 2012, the CEWG set a roadmap to reform financing for research and development to meet the needs of people in developing countries, including a recommendation for a global agreement to ensure sustainable financing, prioritisation, coordination. Most importantly, it also established the norms and principles on how R&D should be financed to ensure innovation and access. R&D must be needs-driven, evidence-based, de-linked from prices, and ensure affordability, efficacy, equity – and be a shared responsibility. Yet in discussions this week, and elsewhere such as at the G7, we are concerned that the CEWG is being left behind.
MSF hopes that the discussions on the CEWG this week are seen as an opportunity to start to fix what is broken. Governments should not fragment discussions on R&D – do not exclude antibiotic resistance and other R&D priorities from the remit of the CEWG.
We also hope that Member States have ambition. Do not just observe the failures of the R&D system, act upon them. We urge all governments to commit to an inter-governmental conference on R&D before the next WHA to connect the dots and ensure policy coherence. Our broken system of R&D is a problem that governments have created, and it is something which ultimately only governments can solve.