Statement |

MSF statement at 71st WHA: Addressing the global shortage of, and access to, medicines and vaccines

Speaker: Elena Villanueva-Olivo

71st World Health Assembly - Agenda item 11.5: Addressing the global shortage of, and access to, medicines and vaccines

MSF teams see the devastating impact that widespread lack of access to essential health technologies has on people’s lives. We see lives cut short when the medicines and vaccines our patients need to survive simply do not exist at all.

Inadequate access to affordable health technologies and the failures of the global research and development (R&D) system are crises of international concern. MSF urges the WHO Secretariat and Member States to prioritise action in five areas to develop a bold roadmap that ensures patient-centred innovation – and access to medicines, vaccines and diagnostics for all people:

  1. Promote alternative R&D approaches and actively pursue an R&D agenda that is driven by health needs, fosters sustainable innovation and access, ends reliance on high prices and monopolies to finance R&D, and addresses innovation and access concerns for all diseases, all health technologies and all countries.

  2. Address intellectual property (IP) barriers to access to medicines and vaccines by strengthening WHO’s leadership role and the technical assistance it provides Member States working to address IP barriers and to effectively adopt and use public health safeguards in IP laws and policies.

  3. Strengthen WHO’s mandate to improve data, cost and price transparency across all aspects of R&D, manufacturing and marketing in order to improve access to affordable medicines, vaccines and diagnostics.

  4. Provide the additional, sustained resources required for WHO to support and strengthen the quality assurance of safe, effective medicines, vaccines and diagnostics that meet public health needs – specifically through additional investment in the WHO Prequalification of Medicines Programme.

  5. Ensure effective policy coherence between the roadmap and WHO and UN health programmes and interventions, promote leadership and accountability among UN agencies to safeguard public health, and fund the development of a roadmap that builds on the Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property and the recommendations of the UN High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines.

A full list of briefing documents and interventions for the 71st WHA can be found here.