United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced today the establishment of a high-level panel on health technology innovation and access.
Comprising 16 eminent, well-respected individuals with a deep knowledge and understanding of the broad range of trade, public health, human rights and legal issues associated with access to treatment, the panel’s co-chairs are Ruth Dreifuss, former President of Switzerland, and Festus Mogae, former President of Botswana.
In order to ensure healthy lives and promote the well-being of people of all ages, as set out in Sustainable Development Goal 3, new modalities are urgently needed to ensure that everyone can access quality treatment at affordable costs while also incentivizing innovation and the development of new technologies such as vaccines, medicines and diagnostics.
Currently, most research and development in vaccines, medicines and diagnostic tests are undertaken on the basis of financial potential rather than focused on the needs of the poorest and most marginalized communities. The recent Ebola crisis, which led to more than 11,000 deaths in West Africa, highlighted the need for urgent investment in research and development for diseases where financial returns are not guaranteed. The Panel will also consider infectious diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C, the rising burden of non-communicable diseases, and the affordability of health technologies, new and old.
The Panel is expected hold its first meeting in December 2015 and to engage in extensive consultations with stakeholders. It will present a set of recommendations to the Secretary-General in June 2016. The Secretary-General will make the final report available to the General Assembly and take any further action, as appropriate.
Ruth Dreifuss became the first woman President of the Swiss Confederation in 1999. From 1972 to 1981, she worked for the Directorate for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid in the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, and became Secretary of the Swiss Trade Union Federation in 1981. Between 1993 and 2002, she was a member of the Swiss Government and Federal Minister of Interior, where her responsibilities included public health and scientific research. Ms. Dreifuss was also Chairperson of the Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation, and Public Health, an entity established by the World Health Assembly, which concluded its work in 2006.
Festus Gontebayne Mogae was the President of Botswana from 1998 to 2008, during which time the country became the first in Africa to provide free antiretroviral treatment to its citizens. Mr. Mogae is Chairman of Champions for a HIV-Free Generation and is credited with having been one of the first African leaders publicly to undergo an HIV test. His outstanding leadership has ensured Botswana’s continued stability and prosperity in the face of an HIV/AIDS pandemic that threatened the future of his country and people. Mr. Mogae has received a number of honours, including the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership.
Andrew Witty, a citizen of the United Kingdom, is the CEO of GlaxoSmithKline, a British multinational pharmaceutical company, and Chancellor of the University of Nottingham. He has held various positions in the United Kingdom, including Director of Pharmacy & Distribution in Glaxo Pharmaceuticals UK, and Director of Business Development of Bio-compatibles Ltd. He is a member of the INSEAD UK Council, Health Innovation Council in the United Kingdom and a Director of the Office for Strategic Coordination of Health Research. He is also a member of the Economic Development Board audit committee as well as a board member of the Singapore Land Authority Board.
Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, a citizen of Japan, is a development economist who has published widely on a broad range of issues relating to development policy and is currently a Professor of International Affairs at the New School in New York City. She is best known for her work as Director and lead author of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Reports (1995-2004). She is a member of the United Nations Committee on Development Policy and the Lancet-Norway Commission on the Global Governance for Health. Ms. Fukuda-Parr is also a co-convenor of Metrics for Human Rights, and of a research initiative, The Power of Numbers: A Critical Review of MDG Targets for Human Development and Human Rights.
Awn al Khasawneh, a citizen of Jordan, is an expert in international law. In 1995, he became an adviser to King Hussein, as well as an adviser of the State on international law. He was appointed Chief of the Royal Hashemite Court from 1996 to 1998. On 17 October 2011, he was appointed by King Abdullah II as Prime Minister of Jordan, a position he held until April 2012. Mr. Khasawneh has also been a member of numerous international law bodies during his career. Elected to the International Court of Justice in 1999, he was re-elected in 2008, serving in that post from February 2000 to December 2011. He also served as the Court’s Vice-President from 2006 to 2009.
Winnie Byanyima, a citizen of Uganda, is the Executive Director of Oxfam International, a non-governmental organization with a strong focus on addressing inequalities so as to lift people out of poverty. Ms. Byanyima was a Member of Parliament for 11 years. She has also served on the African Union Commission as Director of Gender and Development, and at UNDP as Director of Gender. Ms. Byanyima co-founded the 60-member Global Gender and Climate Alliance and chaired a United Nations Task Force on gender aspects of the Millennium Development Goals and on climate change.
Shiba Phurailatpam, a citizen of the United Kingdom and a treatment activist, is the Director of the Asia Pacific Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (APN+). Mr. Phurailatpam has devoted his life to fighting for the rights of people living with HIV in Asia. He is a long-time treatment advocate and activist fighting also for the rights of marginalized communities.
Malebona Precious Matsoso, a citizen of South Africa, is the Director-General of her country’s Department of Health. She previously worked at the World Health Organization (WHO) as Director of Public Health Innovation and Intellectual Property and Director of Technical Cooperation for Essential Drugs and Traditional Medicines. She also served in the Secretariat of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) harmonization initiative and has coordinated related regional activities for effective regulation of medicines.
Yusuf Hamied, a citizen of India, is a scientist and the non-executive Chairman of Cipla, a generic pharmaceutical manufacturer based in his country. Mr. Hamied has led efforts to treat and eradicate AIDS and other diseases in the developing world, and to give patients life-saving medicines regardless of their ability to pay. He offered the world’s first affordable AIDS medicine at the unprecedented cost of $1 per day in 2001. Mr. Hamied has also been influential in pioneering the development of multi-drug combination pills, notably for HIV, tuberculosis, asthma and other ailments chiefly affecting developing countries, as well as the development of paediatric formulations of drugs, especially those benefiting children in poor settings.
Michael Kirby, a citizen of Australia, is an eminent jurist and academic and retired from the High Court of Australia. He served as the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Human Rights in Cambodia between 1993 and 1996. In 2007, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights appointed him to the International Judicial Reference Group. From 2010 to 2012, he served as a Commissioner on the Global Commission on HIV and the Law and co-chaired the Commission’s Technical Advisory Group. In May 2013, the United Nations Human Rights Council appointed Mr. Kirby to lead an inquiry into human rights abuses in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which issued its report in 2014.
Ruth Okediji, a citizen of Nigeria, is a Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota Law School and a visiting Professor at Harvard Law School. An internationally renowned expert and scholar on intellectual property, trade and development, Ms. Okediji’s work on economic and human development issues relating to the harmonization of intellectual property rights has been used by many national Governments, international agencies and research organizations in formulating intellectual property policies at the national and regional levels. She has served as a policy adviser to many intergovernmental organizations, regional economic communities and national Governments on the formulation of copyright and patent policies.
Jorge Bermudez, a citizen of Brazil, holds the position of Vice-President of Health Production and Innovation at the Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz). Prior to returning to Fiocruz in 2011, he served as Executive Director of UNITAID from 2007 to 2011, based in Geneva. Between 2004 and 2007, Mr. Bermudez served as Unit Chief for Medicines, Vaccines and Health Technologies Unit at PAHO/WHO in Washington, D.C., for the region of the Americas. He has played an important role in Brazil’s efforts on local production of antiretroviral medicines and active pharmaceutical ingredients. Mr. Bermudez has published extensively on public health, pharmaceutical policies, access to medicines and intellectual property.
Kinga Göncz, a citizen of Hungary, has extensive experience in government and civil society. As a distinguished academician, she served from 1989 to 2002 as an Associate Professor in the Social Policy and Social Work Department of the Institute for Sociology at ELTE University in Budapest. From 1998 to 2003, she taught at the Human Rights Department of Central European University. Ms. Göncz has also held many positions in the Hungarian Government, including Minister for Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities and Minister for Foreign Affairs between 2002 and 2009. She was a member of the European Parliament from 2009 to 2014.
Maria Freire, a citizen of the United States, is President and Executive Director of Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) and is a member of the Advisory Committee to the Director of the National Institutes of Health. From 2001 to 2008, she was the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development. An internationally recognized expert in technology commercialization, she directed the Office of Technology Transfer at the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH) from 1995 to 2001. Ms. Freire served as one of 10 Commissioners on the Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation and Public Health (CIPIH), established by the World Health Assembly.
Stephen Lewis, a citizen of Canada, is the Board chair of the Stephen Lewis Foundation, Professor of Practice in Global Governance at McGill University and a Professor of Distinction at Ryerson University in Toronto. Mr Lewis is co-founder and co-director of AIDS-Free World in the United States. He is a past member of the Board of Directors of the Clinton Health Access Initiative, and Emeritus Board Member of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. Mr. Lewis was the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa from (2001-2006), Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF at the organization’s global headquarters in New York (1995-1999). He was Canada’s Ambassador to the United Nations (1984-1988).
Celso Amorim, a citizen of Brazil, served as Brazil’s Minister of Foreign Relations from 1993 to 1995 under President Itamar Franco and again from 2003 to 2011 under President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, as well as Minister of Defence from August 2011 to December 2014 under President Dilma Rousseff. Mr. Amorim was named Brazil’s permanent ambassador to the United Nations and the World Trade Organization and served for two years before taking assignment as the ambassador to the United Kingdom in 2001.