Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General, World Health Organization, Switzerland
Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director of WHO South-East Asia Region, New Delhi
Dr. Raymond Busuttil, Chairman of the Executive Board, World Health Organization
18 November 2016
Re: Appeal from Asian Civil Society to the DG to discuss the report of United Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines (HLP) at the forthcoming EB
Dear Dr. Margaret Chan, Dr. Singh and Dr. Busuttil,
We write to you as health organisations, patient networks, treatment providers and rights activists from the Asian region to highlight our concern regarding the failure of your office and five officers of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Executive Board to place the Report of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines” (UN HLP) on the agenda of the 140th session of the WHO Executive Board in January 2017.
Against a back drop of spiraling drug, diagnostics and vaccine prices and innovation failures, the High-Level Panel was constituted to advise the UN Secretary-General, Member States and other relevant stakeholders on concrete recommendations to improving innovation and access to health technologies, building on the work done by WHO and “remedying the policy incoherence between the justifiable rights of inventors, international human rights law, trade rules and public health in the context of health technologies.”
The final report released this September clearly recognizes that today all countries – developed and developing – face challenges in ensuring availability and affordable access and innovation to the pharmaceutical products that people need to live healthy lives.
The report calls for negotiation of a binding international treaty on R&D, delinking prices from R&D costs, greater transparency in drug pricing, public health impact assessments as an imperative to inform trade agreements negotiations, and encouragement to countries to better use international legal tools available under WTO rules to ensure affordable medical products.
Delays by WHO to place the UN HLP report and recommendations on the agenda of the WHO’s EB and subsequently at the World Health Assembly – to encourage member countries to debate, discuss and take forwards the implementation of this critically important report – are unacceptable.
In this context we could like to draw your attention to the 12 September 2016 request by eleven WHO member states of the South East Asia Region (and supported by Brazil, Islamic Republic of Iran and Republic of South Africa) to place an item entitled “Report of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines” (UN HLP) on the agenda of the 140th session of the WHO Executive Board in January 2017.
According to the Note for the Record of the “Teleconference with the Officers of the Executive Board regarding the draft provisional agenda of the 140th session (January 2017)”, on 28 September 2016, you and five Officers of the Executive Board arbitrarily rejected a request by those fourteen countries to hold a discussion of the Final Report of the UN HLP at the January 2017 meeting.
We find this rejection to be arbitrary and unacceptable and calls into question your commitment to WHO’s Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property, the Follow-up of the report of the Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development: Financing and Coordination, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the realization of the right to health.
We call on you to provide leadership to take forward the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s initiative. As the UN’s specialized agency tasked with protecting public health, WHO should lead from the front.
We ask you to reconsider your action on this matter, and respect Member States’ wishes to convene a discussion on the recommendations of the High-Level Panel In January 2017.
AIDS Access Foundation, Thailand
All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN)
Asian Network of People who Use Drugs (ANPUD)
Anandi Yuvaraj, Independent Consultant HIV, Sexual Health Rights, India
Ashok Row Kavi, LGBT rights activist
Astitva Trust – Organization for Support & Development of Sexual Minorities, India
Advocacy Rights of Transgender & Hijra (ARTH), India
Andhra Pradesh Positive Women’s Network (APWN+), India
Campaign for Affordable Trastuzumab, India
Coalition of Drug Users in Nepal (CDUN)
Delhi Network of Positive People (DNP+), India
Drug Study Group, Thailand
Dr. Mira Shiva, India
Dr. Smarajit Jana, India
Delhi Positive Women’s Network, DPWN+, India
Foundation for AIDS Rights (FAR), Thailand
Foundation for Consumers, Thailand
Friends of Kidney Failure Patients Group, Thailand
FTA Watch, Thailand
Freedom Foundation-India (Centres of Excellence- Substance Abuse & HIV/AIDS), India
Gujarat State Network of People living with HIV/AIDS (GSNP+)
Haryana Positive Women’s Network (HPWN+), India
International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC)_South Asia
Initiative for Health & Equity in Society, India
Indonesia AIDS Coalition (IAC)
Kerala Positive Women’s Network (KPWN+), India
Khmer HIV/AIDS NGO Alliance (KHANA), Combodia
Karnataka Positive Women’s Network (KPWN+ ), India
Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, Transgender Rights Activist, India
Leena Menghaney, Lawyer and patient living with Asthma
Maharashtra Thritya Panthi Sangatana, India
Mona Mishra, International Development consultant, India
Manipur All Positive Women’s Network, MAPWN+, India
Mizoram Positive Women’s Network (MPWN+), India
Maharashtra Positive Women’s Network (MPWN+), India
Network of PLHIV living in the Asia Pacific region (APN+)
Network of Maharashtra People with HIV (NMP+), India
National Coalition of People living with HIV in India (NCPI+), India
Nai Umang+, Positive Welfare Society, New Delhi, India
Nagaland Positive Women’s Network (NPWN+), India
Positive Malaysian Treatment Access & Advocacy Group (MTAAG+)
Positive Women Network (PWN+), India
Pondicherry Positive Women’s Network (PPWN+), India
Orissa Positive Women’s Network (OPWN+), India
Rural Pharmacists Group, Thailand
Sanghamitra Iyengar, Mental Health Professional
Sindi Putri, HIV Activist, Indonesia
Stop Drink Network, Thailand
Sankalp Rehabilitation Trust, India
Samraksha, Karnataka, India
Saksham Positive Women’s Network, India
Thai AIDS Treatment Action Group (TTAG), Thailand
Thai Holistic Health Foundation, Thailand
Thai NGO Coalition on AIDS, Thailand
Thai Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (TNP+), Thailand
Tamil Nadu Positive Women’s Network (TPWN+, India
Uttar Pradesh Positive Women’s Network (UPWN+), India
Vietnam Network of People living with HIV (VNP+), Vietnam