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Sunday 27th May 2018

Poor countries must get a look-in

11th December 2006

12122006_burma1Q.jpgThe recent meeting of a World Health Organisation (WHO) working group which aims to address the large inequalities of healthcare provision between rich and poor countries did not contain enough representatives from the poorest countries affected, The Lancet says.

The Intergovernmental Working Group on Intellectual Property Right, Innovation and Public Health was set up with the aim of building a global strategy aimed at boosting research and development into diseases which mostly affect the developing world.

Unfortunately, "this working group seems set to perpetuate the very problems it has set out to address," runs an editorial in the current edition of the journal.

The group is charged with implementing the recommendations of the WHO-mandated Commission of the same name, which produced its final report in April.

It places the onus for ensuring supply of affordable medicines on the governments of developing countries, calling on them to adjust their own patent and licence laws to maximise access to essential medicines, and to strengthen regulatory frameworks and clinical trials.

It urges them to negotiate with big pharmaceuticals to get better deals on drugs, saying that on no account should poorer countries sign up to intellectual property agreements on worse terms than those enjoyed by World Trade Organisation (WTO) members.

"But a global strategy to formalise this support will not work if WHO cannot bring the necessary players to the discussion table."

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