Sunday, 25 May 2008

Balancing importance of IP and Health

Following stories of widespread proliferation of fake medicines in Uganda, the New Vision Newspaper has since reported that fake drugs were impounded and destroyed by burning in Soroti, Eastern Uganda.

Meanwhile, on the global scene, IP Watch reports on the recent closing ceremony of the World Health Organization(WHO)and its global strategy on IP and health. According to this report by William New, the closing hours of the global health assembly saw the draft plan of action spark of debate on "on the role of the World Health Organization in intellectual property-related matters".

The intense debate on the direction of the WHO's program on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property led representatives from Brazil and India to assert that “WHO’s primacy as the technical agency for health" and that "the mandate and its core competencies will not be allowed to be diluted".

In the broader context, how to balance health issues with commercial issues(and IP) remain areas of contention, especially for most countries in Africa. It is important that WIPO, in particular its Africa bureau take a leadership role in supporting member countries to deal with counterfeits through technical assistance to reduce the negative effect fake drugs are having on various health innitiatives. This will ensure that the WHO maintains its focus on health matters, and is not percieved to be veering into manifestly commmercial/ trade related areas which are better left to the WTO's TRIPS council.

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