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High-level Panel Reports on Access to Health Technologies

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Despite significant health innovations in the past 50 years, millions of people continue to be unable to access to these life-protecting technologies.  Too often, interest in advancing innovation comes at the sacrifice of public access, hindering health outcomes for people in need.

To focus attention on this ongoing dilemma, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced creation of a High-level Panel on Innovation and Access to Health Technologies in November, 2015.  The Panel was asked to “review proposals and recommend solutions to remedy the policy incoherence between intellectual property rights, international human rights law, trade rules, and the public’s health, in the context of health technologies.”

This month, the Panel published its final report based on more than 180 submitted ideas.  Recommendations were divided into four major categories:

  1. Health technology innovation and access

  2. Intellectual property law and access to health technologies

  3. New incentives for research and development of health technologies

  4. Governance, accountability, and transparency

The Panel noted, “Incoherencies between the right to health, trade, intellectual property and public health objectives can only be resolved using robust and effective accountability frameworks that hold all stakeholders responsible for the impact of their decisions and actions on innovation and access to health technologies.” They called for the UN General Assembly to hold a special session to gain consensus on a strategic path forward and an accountability framework that promotes innovation while ensuring access to critical health care technologies.

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