PIH to WHO: Ensure Equitable, Global Access to COVID-19 Technological Advancements

WHO’s Executive Board meets this week during Special Session on the COVID-19 Response

Posted on Oct 6, 2020

PCR test for COVID-19 in Rwanda
Inshuti mu Buzima, as PIH is known in Rwanda, is supporting the Ministry of Health by increasing capacity for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing for COVID-19. Photo by Joel Mubiligi / Partners In Health

As a global health organization working in some of the poorest countries in the world, we’ve seen firsthand the importance of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) efforts in promoting global solidarity and an equity agenda for ending the global COVID-19 pandemic.

At this week’s Special Session on the COVID-19 Response, the WHO’s Executive Board has an important opportunity to take a strong stand for broadening access to COVID-19-related health technologies as global public goods. Across the world, many low- and low-middle income countries face significant barriers to accessing diagnostics, medicines, and an eventual vaccine for COVID-19-related conditions. The WHO’s COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) has been sidelined by acceptance of intellectual property regimes that favor pharmaceutical companies in high-income countries. 

But the WHO Executive Board can and must now reaffirm the urgency of sharing technological know-how to address this sweeping pandemic.  In turn, member states should ensure, through TRIPS waivers and otherwise, that intellectual property restrictions do not limit access to Covid-19 technologies.  We call on the WHO Executive Board–– and all Members States– to make these commitments to ensure COVID-19 health technologies as global public goods. The world cannot afford to wait.

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