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COVID-19 Omnibus Resolution at the UN

Institutional responses to the pandemic continue to be shaped by international organizations in an effort to improve coordination and streamline processes to deal with COVID-19 in an uneven world characterised by weak health systems, differing approaches to science and varying commitments to address human rights issues. Under the aegis of the UN General Assembly, countries are working on a draft omnibus resolution on the COVID-19 pandemic. Typically, an “omnibus resolution” longer than usual resolutions, relating to all aspects of a particular issue, containing more information and seeking specific action from governments. While not binding, UNGA resolutions do serve as a … Continue reading COVID-19 Omnibus Resolution at the UN

WHO-led Research & Innovation Forum on COVID-19: July 2

WHO convened a Global Research and Innovation Forum on COVID-19 this week, bringing together 1300 experts virtually including researchers, funders and developers, to discuss the state of the science and to take stock of the six-month old pandemic which has resulted in more than half a million deaths, infected upwards of 10 million people in more than 200 countries, and has devastated lives and livelihoods. The forum was convened in order lay out the existing knowledge gaps, map emerging research priorities and decide on the critical research questions that need to be addressed going forward. The conference follows the first … Continue reading WHO-led Research & Innovation Forum on COVID-19: July 2

WHO’s Allocation Framework on COVID19 health products

The WHO Allocation Framework; Q&A with Achal Prabhala WHO’s efforts to put in place a plan to divvy up COVID-19 health products equitably across the world is now being hashed out, even as member-states and companies strike up bilateral deals in the hope of getting preferential access, particularly to vaccines, when they become available. It is not clear whether WHO will be able to prevail on countries to implement what it hopes will be a global allocation mechanism to ensure equitable allocation. In fact it is not even clear whether WHO will be able to ensure that Gavi’s COVAX Facility … Continue reading WHO’s Allocation Framework on COVID19 health products

WTO: COVID19 – Measures regarding trade-related intellectual property rights

WTO’s TRIPS Council met informally last week on June 19, 2020 to consider the implications of the pandemic for council related work and its future agenda, IP measures taken in the context of COVID19 and continuing positions on non-violation and situation complaints. It is interesting to take note of the range of IP measures taken in the context of the pandemic.  Delegations were invited to share information and best practices on intellectual property measures taken in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The WTO secretariat has drawn up a non-exhaustive of IP measures compiled from official sources. “It represents an … Continue reading WTO: COVID19 – Measures regarding trade-related intellectual property rights

Public health & tobacco plain packaging: Q&A with Benn McGrady, WHO

Q&A with Benn McGrady, Technical Officer (Legal), Public Health Law and Policies, Health Promotion (HPR) at World Health Organization. Geneva Health Files reached out to Benn McGrady, a health law expert. He speaks about what the recent WTO Appellate Body ruling on tobacco plain packaging, means for public health. McGrady an expert on the matter, is the author of the book Trade and Public Health: The WTO, Tobacco, Alcohol, and Diet , Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011. The following are his responses to queries sent on email. 1. The significance of the ruling for public health and non-communicable diseases in … Continue reading Public health & tobacco plain packaging: Q&A with Benn McGrady, WHO

WTO’s AB backs Australia on tobacco plain packaging

In the last ruling of the Appellate Body, the international trade court at WTO, backed Australia on the long-running disputes on tobacco plain packaging requirements. The AB essentially upheld a previous dispute panel ruling – rejecting claims from Honduras and the Dominican Republic that Australia’s tobacco “plain packaging” measures are inconsistent with WTO rules. This is significant for public health and a big win for the fight against non-communicable diseases. But I believe, was to be expected given the way this issue was also dealt with in other forums.   The ruling is also a somber reminder of the realities … Continue reading WTO’s AB backs Australia on tobacco plain packaging

Civil Society Push for Binding Commitments on Access to COVID-19 Tech

Civil society organizations continue to push for binding commitments on “equitable access to any effective technologies developed with regards to COVID-19”. The letter sent earlier this month to WHO, its member states and UNITAID signed by 86 civil society organizations can be read here. CSOs pointed out the the lack of governance mechanisms and binding commitments for equitable access and sharing of technology, knowledge and data, management and licensing of intellectual property for medical tools to fight the pandemic. “Funding and voluntary approaches for intellectual property (IP) licensing alone are not sufficient to guarantee that life-saving health technologies and medical … Continue reading Civil Society Push for Binding Commitments on Access to COVID-19 Tech

A strong call for COVID-19 treatments & vaccines to be global public goods – WHA73

First published by International Health Policies If the world needed proof of international cooperation in the midst of the ever-widening gulfs between increasingly nationalistic democracies, it got one – the first ever virtual World Health Assembly that concluded 19th May. Not only did capitals express solidarity (many, dialling in from cloistered chambers), there was a resounding support for treatments and vaccines as global public goods. Country after country showed up on screens worldwide, some measured, some proud, many humbled. Most of them, had one consistent message – to make treatments and vaccines to fight the pandemic available for all. This is … Continue reading A strong call for COVID-19 treatments & vaccines to be global public goods – WHA73

U.S. likely to propose language on incentivising innovation: COVID-19 resolution at WHA 73

The U.S. might push for new language on incentivising innovation to the existing draft resolution. Sources told Geneva Health Files, that the U.S. has expressed reservations on the draft COVID-19 response resolution and is proposing additional language on “incentivising innovation”. While, it is not clear whether this means that the silence procedure has been broken. (The World Health Assembly (WHA) had already considered the adoption of special procedures for the conduct of de minimis meetings) The suggestion expressed by the U.S. for an additional paragraph articulating protection for intellectual property rights may come for discussion when the resolution will be … Continue reading U.S. likely to propose language on incentivising innovation: COVID-19 resolution at WHA 73