Minutes - TRIPS Council - View details of the intervention/statement

Ambassador Alejandro Jara (Chile)
World Health Organization (WHO)
242. The representative of the World Health Organization said that, for his organization, the careful and systematic attention which WTO Members had given to the issue of access to medicines during the 20 June 2001 discussion in the Council for TRIPS and were giving to it at the present meeting was most heartening. WHO wished to congratulate WTO Members on the historic importance of the 20 June 2001 discussion in that this was the first time in the 50-year history of the multilateral trading system including GATT and the WTO that a special discussion on access to drugs had been convened. The WHO was encouraged by the Chairperson's summary of the 20 June discussion in which he had indicated that "[...] Members said they [are] committed to ensuring that the TRIPS Agreement does not stand in the way of access to existing drugs, especially in the poorest countries […]" and that the Council would "seek common understandings of the flexibility in the TRIPS Agreement, so as to ensure that all Members have the necessary sense of security and legal certainty that enable[s] them to use these provisions to the full". He also noted with appreciation the numerous positive references by delegates at the same meeting of the TRIPS Council to the WHO's work in the area of access to medicines. He referred to the update WHO had provided to the Council of its activities in the field of technical cooperation relevant to implementation of the TRIPS Agreement and access to drugs emphasizing that this update contained WHO's policy perspectives on access to drugs. It also provided information on: (1) policy guidance and information support; (2) direct country support and regional awareness meetings; (3) monitoring and analysis of the potential impact of globalization on access to drugs; and (4) cooperation with other international organizations. With respect to cooperation with international organizations, the WHO had been fortunate to co-sponsor joint meetings with the WTO Secretariat, such as the April 2001 Workshop on Differential Pricing and Financing of Essential Drugs. WHO had also been pleased to have the participation of the WTO Secretariat in regional briefings on pharmaceuticals and trade. The WHO Secretariat had been mandated by the WHO Member States to continue cooperation with international organizations to support countries. In this light, the WHO Secretariat looked forward to being of assistance to WTO Members in whatever way it could.