Fizi healthzone, South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo, November 14, 2010. Photograph by Haavar Karlsen Photograph by Haavar Karlsen
Technical brief |

70th World Health Assembly Intervention, Agenda Item 13.3

Photograph by Haavar Karlsen

Addressing the global shortage of, and access to, medicines and vaccines

In 2015 the UN Secretary General launched the UNHLP to address the failures that MSF witnesses every day in our medical and humanitarian operations in over 60 countries – that needed diagnostics, vaccines and treatments are often unaffordable, unsuitable or simply do not exist.

MSF welcomes the report’s focus on promoting innovation and access to health technologies in all countries, all diseases and all health technologies, and its findings and recommendations.  The report recognizes major gaps and challenges with the current R&D system and that people are suffering as a result. The recommendations build upon prior commitments all countries have made under the CEWG and GSPOA but that still need to be fully implemented.

UNHLP recommendations sit at the heart of numerous decisions governments need to make this week – addressing high prices of cancer, vaccines and Hepatitis C medicines, introducing new models of research and development to address drug-resistant infections and epidemic-prone infectious diseases, or effectively implementing TRIPS flexibilities to respond to the monopoly power of pharmaceutical corporations.

MSF as a purchaser and user of medical technologies, MSF understand that many factors affect access and that governments need to improve their negotiation and purchasing processes. But not all barriers to access require WHO global norm-setting.

MSF is disappointed by the statements of some Member States this week that are trying to dilute and delay the urgently needed negotiations on access to medicines. In 2017, we have no more time to wait. Essential medical care is being rationed everywhere due to the epidemic of high prices. It is time to focus on strategies to deal with high prices and monopolies. It is also time for unity and action by countries that are ready to act. As this is clearly not a developing country problem anymore, there is an opportunity for new coalitions and alliances for action.

We strongly urge Member States to concretely implement the findings and recommendations of the report while also mandating which recommendations WHO and other UN agencies should take forward.

The WHO and Health Ministries have a critical and leading role to address systemic policy incoherence that led to the creation of the UNSG Panel, but they cannot do it alone.  MSF urges an appropriate response from all relevant Ministries and across the UN system, including a comprehensive and global discussions and action on the worldwide epidemic of high drug prices and lack of patient-driven innovation. 

Briefing document: Medical Research and Development

A full list of briefing documents and interventions for the 70th WHA can be found here.


Medical Research and Development