Union intervention at the 71st World Health Assembly on medicine and vaccine shortage

At the 71st World Health Assembly today, Member States discussed whether to request the Director-General to develop a road map report, in consultation with Member States, outlining the programming of WHO’s work on access to medicines and vaccines, including activities, actions and deliverables for the period 2019−2023. Access to safe and effective medicines and vaccines for all is one of the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals. In response to this discussion, The Union read the following statement:

The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung disease (The Union) is a global scientific organisation founded to advance solutions to the most pressing public health challenges affecting people living in poverty, including tuberculosis.

“The TB epidemic will persist, and TB drug-resistance will worsen, without new tools to treat, diagnose, and prevent TB. Adequate financing for TB research and development is essential to ensuring the rights to health and the benefits of scientific progress, as well as achieving Universal Health Coverage.

“Only two new TB medicines have come to market in the last 50 years. TB diagnostics are inadequate—and ineffective for children. The only licensed TB vaccine, BCG, is nearly 100 years old, has failed to halt the epidemic despite almost global administration.

“The Union urges member states convening at the The United Nations (UN) High Level Meeting on Tuberculosis in September 2018 to accelerate development of essential new TB drugs, diagnostics and vaccines, including increasing funding for TB research in order to close the US$1.3 billion annual TB research funding gap. They should create an enabling environment for research and uptake of new tools—including open data sharing, innovative strategies for intellectual property, including the Medicines Patent Pool to make molecules available for regimen development, and treating final products as common goods thereby ensuring their affordability, availability, accessibility, and quality.

“The Union welcomes the road map outlining WHO’s work on access to medicines and vaccines, including activities, actions and deliverables for the period 2019−2023 and hopes that the norms and principles underpinning initiatives like The Life Prize for TB drug and regimen R&D support broader R&D and access to medicine discussions within the WHO’s road map.”