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

Mr. Martin Glass (Hong Kong, China)
World Health Organization (WHO)
F.4 Capacity building on the Paragraph 6 System and related TRIPS flexibilities
214. The representative of the WHO outlined the foundation of his organization's perspective on access to medicines. The Constitution of WHO stated that the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health was one of the fundamental rights of every human being. In recent years, the scope and content of the right to health had been further clarified in international law. Access to essential medicines today was established as a part of the right to health that obliged governments to work for its progressive realization and intellectual property rights were one of the many determinants for access to medicines. WHO had a longstanding mandate to work at the interface of public health and intellectual property. This had been reinforced by the WHO Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property that had stated that "WHO shall play a strategic and central role in the relationship between public health and innovation and intellectual property…" 215. The Global Strategy had recognized the importance of patents as an incentive for the development of new health-care products, but had concluded that "this incentive alone does not meet the need for the development of new products to fight diseases where the potential paying market is small or uncertain." The Global Strategy had also affirmed that "there is a crucial need to strengthen innovation capacity as well as capacity to manage and apply intellectual property in developing countries, including, in particular, the use to the full of the provisions in the TRIPS Agreement and instruments related to that agreement, which provide flexibilities to take measures to protect public health." In fulfilling this mandate, the WHO had worked continuously in collaboration with other relevant international organizations and with WHO Country and Regional Offices, to support its member states in their endeavours to apply and manage intellectual property in a manner that maximized health-related innovation, protected public health, and promoted access to medicines for all. 216. In accordance with the Global Strategy, the WHO had strengthened its efforts to coordinate work in the field of public health and intellectual property with other relevant international organizations. The Director-General of the WHO had exchanged letters with the Directors-General of the WIPO and the WTO to enhance collaboration and coordination of respective activities in this field. Based on this exchange of letters the Secretariats met every month to coordinate activities and to discuss possible areas of cooperation and joint work around public health and intellectual property. 217. The WHO's priorities in technical cooperation had been to provide member states with information, training and technical assistance on how to apply and manage intellectual property in a manner that maximized health-related innovation and promoted access to medical products. Special emphasis had been given to the implementation and use of flexibilities and public policy options in accordance with the TRIPS Agreement and the Doha Declaration to promote implementation of the TRIPS Agreement that supported access to medical products and needs-driven innovation. Further details of the activities carried out since 2008 were contained in the WHO's report on its technical and financial cooperation activities.