205. The representative of the Secretariat provided an overview of the technical cooperation undertaken by the WTO Secretariat in relation to public health and access to medicines, with a particular focus on the System, supplementing the more comprehensive report on technical cooperation that had been provided the previous day under agenda item K (IP/C/W/553). Public health and the TRIPS provisions most directly relevant to innovation and access to medicines had formed an integral part of technical assistance activities undertaken by the Secretariat in relation to the TRIPS Agreement. In general, technical cooperation activities relating to TRIPS were directed towards assisting Members to understand the rights and obligations, including the available options, which flowed from the TRIPS Agreement and relevant decisions of WTO bodies and dispute settlement jurisprudence. This covered TRIPS flexibilities and policy options under TRIPS, including the System, and the interplay between TRIPS standards and policy choices. Technical cooperation activities had also developed an increasing practical focus, so that presentations and descriptive materials were supplemented by practical exercises and simulations, and dialogue between participants.
206. Since the adoption of the TRIPS waiver in 2003 and the TRIPS amendment in 2005, virtually all technical cooperation activities concerning TRIPS had addressed the System, whether they took the form of regional workshops, Geneva-based events, national seminars, or more tailored activities. He estimated that the number of relevant activities certainly exceeded one hundred. Over such a wide range of activities, the extent to which the System was covered, and the specific aspects which were explored, varied considerably, dependent on several factors, including the level of the participants, ranging from introductory overviews to detailed reviews of the operation of the system, and on the particular thrust of the programme, i.e. whether it was, for example, a dedicated workshop on TRIPS and public health, or a general overview of current TRIPS issues. The coverage of such activities would typically include: (i) the negotiating history and policy background of the Doha Declaration and the System, based on WTO documents; (ii) the specific scenarios in which the System was intended to operate; (iii) the operational details of the System, including the content and procedures for filing the required notifications; (iv) practical group exercises on the use of the System; and (v) the legal acceptance of the TRIPS amendment and the nature of the steps required to give effect to it.
207. Strong emphasis had been laid on cooperation with other international organizations in the conduct of such technical assistance. Following the Doha Declaration and the development of the System this meant, for instance, that the World Health Organization had become a regular participant in virtually all regional and Geneva-based activities, the only constraints being the inevitable logistical ones, bringing a vital public health perspective to each of these programmes. The larger or more focused programmes had been enhanced further by the participation of the full spectrum of those concerned with access to medicines: civil society, public sector procurement initiatives, industry representatives, public-private partnerships, and policy analysts. Events, such as the Colloquium and Advanced Course had included presentations from participating scholars and policy analysts from a wide range of countries, many of whom had chosen to address access to medicines and related issues.
208. He highlighted the series of six workshops on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health that had been convened in Geneva. These programmes had opened with expert overviews from the WHO, WIPO and WTO Secretariats on the interplay between intellectual property and public health, and had included extensive material on the public health-related elements and flexibilities in the TRIPS Agreement. They had dealt with the wider context of public health and intellectual property and the full range of relevant TRIPS standards, policy options and flexibilities. They had naturally covered extensively the implementation and application of the System, including through case studies. These workshops had drawn on experts with a wide range of experiences and backgrounds to provide sessions on a range of key issues in the interplay between public health and intellectual property, including regulatory approval and quality control of medicines, the role of competition rules, procurement policy and strategies for essential medicines, and the use of patent landscaping to guide policymakers. The workshops had emphasized dialogue and diverse perspectives. Recent sessions had concluded with a wide-ranging panel discussion on the relationship between TRIPS, innovation and public health. This discussion had provided an opportunity for representatives of the research and generic industries, access to medicines programmes, not-for-profit product development, and innovation and production capacity programmes for developing countries to share their views and for participants to engage actively with them. Substantive contributions had been made by the WHO and WIPO, and presentations by speakers with different backgrounds (including a range of Geneva-based missions, NGOs and academia), so as to afford a comprehensive overview of the key players' views and the most important aspects related to public health. These workshops had also aimed to bring together participants (not only speakers) with different backgrounds (from the areas of health policy, intellectual property and trade) so that they could learn from each other and to promote understanding that interdepartmental cooperation was beneficial on the domestic front just as it was internationally.
209. The increased focus on technical cooperation relating to public health and intellectual property had been assisted through active dialogue, coordination and partnership with the WHO and WIPO. This very productive cooperation had facilitated further involvement of WHO and WIPO experts in WTO technical cooperation activities, which had enabled more effective and more tailored technical cooperation from a richer and more well informed factual background. This cooperation had also led to joint technical cooperation activities, including a technical symposium jointly organized by the three secretariats on "Access to Medicines: Pricing and Procurement Practices" in Geneva on 16 July 2010. The purpose of the symposium had been to gather experiences in the pricing and procurement of medicines as important determinants of access and to examine how and where to obtain information on access to medicines, their prices and their availability. It had provided an opportunity for participants with different backgrounds, coming from governments, international and philanthropic initiatives on the procurement of medicines, civil society organizations and industry, to share experiences, take stock of the present situation and examine future needs.
210. Three future directions might be considered with respect to the technical cooperation work of the WTO Secretariat. First, the increasing trend towards partnership with other organizations, both within the established trilateral partnership, and beyond it, would be highly desirable, at the level of planning, coordination and programme delivery, so as to ensure the necessary breadth of expertise was available and to leverage the investment of resources more effectively. Second, a practical understanding of the relevant elements of the TRIPS Agreement and the System in particular might be embedded in a practical way into operational procurement programmes, with greater interconnection between the technical cooperation activities and those who undertook procurement of medicines, for instance to facilitate the communication of demand for medicines through the System. Third, the enhanced and more integrated information base that was gradually emerging concerning, for example, patent coverage, prices and access to medicines by vulnerable populations, would enable technical cooperation to be more focused, tailored and practically oriented towards specific drug procurement objectives.