Divergences Continue on the Approaches to Reform the Governance of Health Emergencies 

If the WGPR meeting was any indication, the coming year will witness a decisive fight between competing interests on safeguarding equity in global health. This week countries tried to agree on a work plan for the next few months that will see the building blocks for new rules on governing health emergencies put into place. Therefore much is at stake on how to design this process and the resulting negotiations across different forums on a range of issues including incorporating meaningful equity considerations, the strengthening of the International Health Regulations, among others. This in essence is what was discussed at … Continue reading Divergences Continue on the Approaches to Reform the Governance of Health Emergencies 

Reflections on self-publishing [2021]: Year Two, Geneva Health Files

Dear Readers, Reflections are a luxury in a frenzied news cycle. But it is a necessity for any media entrepreneur. In the midst of our annual break, we bring you some lessons we learned in running Geneva Health Files. We believe this has relevance not only for media entrepreneurship but also for the role of the media in global health. The act of self-publishing is fairly radical. Geneva Health Files was born in 2020 to meet the demand for comprehensive, inter-disciplinary reporting on global health from Geneva. Buoyed by the response, we took a step further in 2021 and went paid in … Continue reading Reflections on self-publishing [2021]: Year Two, Geneva Health Files

TRIPS Waiver fights to stay front and center at WTO; What lies ahead for countries post-WHASS

Days after the postponement of WTO’s ministerial conference at the cusp of its convening, the proponents of the TRIPS Waiver are fighting to keep it front and center even as the emergence of a new variant has cast a spotlight on the WTO to resolve the waiver discussions to meet new challenges in the on-going pandemic. Depending on who one speaks to, it seems that the new variant gives urgency to both the opponents and the supporters of the waiver. One trade diplomat from an opposing group told us that the variant has underscored even more the role of the intellectual property … Continue reading TRIPS Waiver fights to stay front and center at WTO; What lies ahead for countries post-WHASS

Podcast: The Story Of The TRIPS Waiver

Dear Readers, Listeners, I am happy to bring you our next episode of the Geneva Health Files podcast, encouraged by the response to our first earlier in the year. In this episode we take you on the journey of the TRIPS waiver, how it began and the way it has captured public imagination. While uncertainty swirls around what will happen next in the story of the waiver, let’s seize the moment to review and recap in broad brushstrokes, the journey so far and what this means for the world. This podcast has been made possible when a reader, a trained radio journalist, … Continue reading Podcast: The Story Of The TRIPS Waiver

At WTO, Some Developing Countries: “No Waiver – No Walker”; Destination undecided, but countries divided over legal route for new WHO instrument

With just days left for the 12th WTO ministerial, members are yet to reach a decision on the TRIPS waiver – one of the most important deliverables for this meeting. While the waiver decision may hold the key to the success or failure of this event, it is emerging as a key bargaining chip for developing countries in trying to steer the overall outcomes from this ministerial, according to trade diplomats. There was already pressure building on the opponents to the waiver as hours towards the ministerial get smaller. In a dramatic turn of events, the rise of a new variant detected … Continue reading At WTO, Some Developing Countries: “No Waiver – No Walker”; Destination undecided, but countries divided over legal route for new WHO instrument

Is the ‘Walker Process’ at the WTO undermining the TRIPS Waiver?

In crafting a WTO response to the pandemic, not all members favor referring to a potential decision on the TRIPS Waiver. This, among other issues, threatens consensus around a broader declaration on what is being referred as the WTO response to the pandemic that builds on the trade and health initiative suggested by the Ottawa Group. (The group is a coalition of countries that first proposed a trade and health initiative in November 2020) At stake is not only what members want as text in this declaration, but also the process of negotiating this text in the run up to the … Continue reading Is the ‘Walker Process’ at the WTO undermining the TRIPS Waiver?

The Emerging Path to the TRIPS Waiver

With just a fortnight left for the 12th WTO ministerial conference, WTO members continue to diverge on the TRIPS Waiver proposal that many believe will bolster the response to COVID-19. But countries hope that they will be able to find convergence on a potential waiver to ensure a strong outcome on WTO’s response to the pandemic on intellectual property issues. Members are exploring ways in which vaccine manufacturers who are ready to produce, should be able to begin production of COVID-19 vaccines without worrying about patents. But it is unclear which route this could take – whether under existing TRIPS flexibilities … Continue reading The Emerging Path to the TRIPS Waiver

Round One to the EU & Friends: “Treaty” Option Gains Support

WHO member states have agreed to explore further the need for new rules, even as they would consider strengthening existing rules. The Working Group on strengthening WHO preparedness and response to health emergencies met this week to agree on a draft report that will be submitted to the Special Session of the World Health Assembly later this month. These discussions are one of the most contentious policy choices for countries battling the pandemic, and under pressure to be seen as responding to a political process. After four days of intense discussions where countries negotiated to draft text for this report, it appears … Continue reading Round One to the EU & Friends: “Treaty” Option Gains Support

Pathogen-Sharing and the Access to Benefits: Theory And Practice

By Divya Venkatesh In a pandemic, the sharing of pathogen samples – and associated data such as genetic sequences and epidemiological information are critical for effective public health response – both globally and locally. This is particularly important for the development of medical countermeasures, such as vaccines and diagnostics. And as this pandemic has shown, the sharing of these medical countermeasures across the world is as important to fight the spread of disease. Nominally, the sharing of pathogen samples is governed by the Convention on Biological Diversity (1992), specifically through its supplementary agreement – the Nagoya Protocol which came into effect in … Continue reading Pathogen-Sharing and the Access to Benefits: Theory And Practice

“Equity” Expands in Pandemic Treaty Discussions at WHO

WHO member states continue to engage and wrestle with the question on whether the world needs a new legal instrument to address future emergencies. Considerations on equity are fast-assuming center-space in these discussions. However, it is too early to say whether and to what extent will equity be addressed meaningfully in future governance of health emergencies. Under the Working group on strengthening WHO preparedness and response to health emergencies (WGPR), member states had several consultations this week. In two inter-sessional meetings this week, the working group had discussions in a “deep dive” format on “equity and medical countermeasures and sample sharing … Continue reading “Equity” Expands in Pandemic Treaty Discussions at WHO