Originally published in The Wire.
As the business of global health expands, inevitably the gatekeepers of international trade and investment have become important at World Health Organization (WHO) – the axis on which public health policy rests. Of the many policies that get formulated at WHO, discussions on the access to medicines including cost of drugs, transparency in research and development, transfer of technology have been contentious for years. In parallel, how the UN’s only norms-setting body engages with non-state actors while dealing with policies that have implications for giant businesses, has also drawn attention.
At this decisive stage in his tenure at WHO, Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus sits down to decide who gets a seat on the table and how he would preside over seemingly irreconcilable positions among member states on matters such as access to affordable drugs.