Health Emergencies Engulf WHO & its Priorities: A Wrap of WHA 75

Seldom has WHO been forced to take such a decisive political stand, during its existence for three-quarters of a century. It may have now set a precedent that will be difficult to walk away from, in the future. This week will likely be seen as a watershed moment for WHO, when scores of member states pushed through a politically significant resolution, albeit, one that may be limited in practical terms, condemning “in the strongest terms Russian Federation’s military aggression against Ukraine, including attacks on health care facilities documented via the WHO’s Surveillance System for Attacks on Health Care (SSA)”. The … Continue reading Health Emergencies Engulf WHO & its Priorities: A Wrap of WHA 75

Curtain-Raiser: WHA75; Tough negotiations on the WTO’s IP response to the pandemic

he US sets in motion process to amend the International Health Regulations; Developing countries try to restore balance in WGPR discussions Rules to govern health emergencies continue to dominate the policy discussions at WHO. As the 75th World Health Assembly gets underway in a few days, a crowded agenda awaits member states: from the re-election of the director-general, to the Ukrainian crisis, from formal efforts towards the amendments of International Health Regulations to increasing countries’ assessed contributions to boost sustainable financing of WHO. The first in-person meeting in two years will bring ministers, delegates and other attendees, to Geneva in … Continue reading Curtain-Raiser: WHA75; Tough negotiations on the WTO’s IP response to the pandemic

The World Health Assembly: The What, The Why and The How

This primer on the World Health Assembly has been produced in association with Global Health Now, an influential newsletter from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. This article was first published by Global Health Now here on May 13, 2022. It has been reproduced here with permission. What is the World Health Assembly? Each May, representatives from the 194 member states of the WHO gather in Geneva to discuss, argue, haggle, and sign off on the agency’s priorities and policies.  It’s called the World Health Assembly, and it’s the premier decision-making body of the WHO.   Country reps consult and set new … Continue reading The World Health Assembly: The What, The Why and The How

China’s Spokes WTO Quad Waiver Text, Offers to Sidestep if Conditions Met

China, one of the biggest exporters of COVID-19 vaccines, told WTO members this week that it has concerns on an exports-based eligibility criterion that seeks to exclude developing countries that export more than 10% of the world’s vaccines – a condition that has been proposed as a part of the “Quad waiver text”, now being negotiated at the WTO. China said that “using the criterion of export share to define eligible members will send a wrong signal to the outside world and also have systemic implications to the future negotiations”. China also offered that if its concerns on such a … Continue reading China’s Spokes WTO Quad Waiver Text, Offers to Sidestep if Conditions Met

WTO DG Serves Up New Proposed Text on the TRIPS Waiver to a Divided House, Tense Negotiations Expected

This week WTO members were given access to a letter that was described as an outcome document based on the discussions between select members. This letter was sent by the Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to the Chair of the Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, Ambassador Lansana Gberie of Sierra Leone, describing the progress of the informal discussions on the TRIPS Waiver proposal. The letter also shared a proposed text by the DG on the waiver discussions.   Although the document does not specifically mention the quadrilateral group (comprising the US, the EU, India and South Africa) it is understood … Continue reading WTO DG Serves Up New Proposed Text on the TRIPS Waiver to a Divided House, Tense Negotiations Expected

Member States Pull Back WHO from the Brink of Irrelevance, Reach Consensus to Pay More in Dues.

Barely hours before the proceedings came to a close, member states reached a consensus at the final meeting of the Working Group on Sustainable Financing, agreeing in principle for an increase in their contributions to WHO, diplomats told Geneva Health Files. The road to consensus on this proposal was not without bumps. And compromises had to be made. A consistent diplomatic effort, and public pressure might have contributed to the break in opposition by some Latin American countries to this much-debated proposal, sources say. As we had reported earlier, despite an overwhelming support for an increase in assessed contributions (ACs) from … Continue reading Member States Pull Back WHO from the Brink of Irrelevance, Reach Consensus to Pay More in Dues.

Sticky post

Pfizer Allegedly Pressured UNICEF to Keep Secret, Pricing for Anti-Viral Treatment Paxlovid. UNICEF Yielded

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer allegedly pressured UNICEF to agree to non-disclosure requirements on pricing that would protect information on the prices of the company’s anti-viral treatment for COVID-19 Paxlovid, sources told Geneva Health Files. UNICEF, a procurement partner for the ACT Accelerator, recently concluded a supply agreement with Pfizer for up to 4 million courses of treatment. It is further learned that UNICEF reportedly took a unilateral decision to finalise the supply agreement with Pfizer without taking into account other partners of the therapeutics pillar of the ACT Accelerator (ACT A) including WHO, Global Fund, Unitaid. (Charitable Foundation Wellcome Trust is also a part … Continue reading Pfizer Allegedly Pressured UNICEF to Keep Secret, Pricing for Anti-Viral Treatment Paxlovid. UNICEF Yielded

The Chronic Crisis in WHO Financing: A Temperature Check on Member States’ Commitments

Sustainable Financing Working Group Final Meeting Next Week WHO member states have so far struggled to reach a consensus on increasing their assessed contributions that would make the organization’s financing more predictable and sustainable. That window of making this decision may be closing fast, also given the simultaneous proposals that will transform global health financing in a post-pandemic world.   The Bureau of the Working Group on Sustainable Financing has recommended that the World Health Assembly in May, must commit to future incremental increases of assessed contributions to an eventual level of 50% of the budget for 2022–2023 base programmes. The first increase … Continue reading The Chronic Crisis in WHO Financing: A Temperature Check on Member States’ Commitments

Public Hearings on a Pandemic Agreement Open Floodgates of Interest; WTO DG To Take Compromise Text on TRIPS Waiver to the Wider Membership

Public Hearings on a Pandemic Agreement Open Floodgates of InterestAn impressive range of stakeholders made their interests and concerns known at the public hearings this week conducted by the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body set up to establish a new pandemic agreement. From feisty civil society activists to hard-as-knuckles lobbyists; from social justice champions to focused medical products manufacturers; from professors at American universities to healthcare workers; from representatives of the families of the deceased to wildlife experts; from anesthesiologists to anthropologists; from human rights scholars to teachers’ unions. These disparate group made forceful, incisive statements on what the pandemic meant to … Continue reading Public Hearings on a Pandemic Agreement Open Floodgates of Interest; WTO DG To Take Compromise Text on TRIPS Waiver to the Wider Membership

Countries Find Chaos in Parallel Tracks on Drawing Up New Rules for Health Emergencies, Many Unprepared

It was never going to be easy. As countries get deeper into the processes for defining new rules for future health emergencies, many delegations in Geneva and in the capitals, are finding it difficult to keep up with multiple consultations, formal, informal and across different forums. “It is chaotic and disorganized”, one Geneva-based health diplomat told us this week. While this is just the beginning of long drawn negotiations, churn and disagreements are to be expected. But it is clear that the processes that guide these negotiations, will undoubtedly determine outcomes. Most immediately, that there are two competing priorities. One … Continue reading Countries Find Chaos in Parallel Tracks on Drawing Up New Rules for Health Emergencies, Many Unprepared