As Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan completed his tenure as the Chairman of the World Health Organization (WHO) Executive Board, he said that there is no scope for industries to stick to intellectual property rights (IPR) of COVID-19 vaccines and that organizations must find ways to ensure affordable access to key drugs.
Speaking at the 149th session of the Executive Board on Wednesday, the Minister said: "At a critical time like the present pandemic, there is no scope for the industry to stick to Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). Sometimes we find that there is little willingness for collaborative research. Affordability too, is a key driving factor to achieve our aim of health for all. WHO, along with others such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) must find ways to ensure affordable access to such key drugs in critical times."
"..The biggest challenge before us is the equitable distribution of vaccines. I believe that we at WHO must all rise to the occasion to serve the powerless and the voiceless, to see hope in these darkest of hours. This is one chance to forge open collaborations and reaffirm that fundamental truth that the world is one," he added.
Commending the WHO for its steadfast support to all member states throughout the pandemic, he said that the access to COVID-19 Tools Acceleration is the fastest most coordinated and successful collaboration in history to accelerate the development, production and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines.
"Excellencies, the time to act is now. This is a time when we all understand that there are going to be many health challenges in the next two decades. All these challenges demand a shared response because these are shared threats requiring shared responsibility to act and of course, this is also the core responsibility of the WHO," he said during the session.
"The bigger need of the hour is the shared idealism of nations. In such a dire global crisis, both risk management and mitigation require further strengthening of global partnerships to rekindle interest and investment in global public health," said the Union Health Minister.
He also stressed for more aggressiveness in engaging in partnerships where joint action, sharing the research agenda and stimulating the dissemination of valuable knowledge. "We must commit to work with the member states, the organization and the global community of partners for efficient, effective and responsive discharge of our public health organizations," he remarked.
With the 149th session of the Executive Board, Harsh Vardhan has completed his tenure as the Chairman.
"It has been both an honour and a habitual experience for me to serve as chair of the executive board over the last year... My heart feels heavy as I exist amidst a lot of work that remains to be done and as the planet continues to reel under the pandemic crisis and economic turbulence," he said at the session.
Dr Patrick Patrick Amoth, Acting Director-General for Health, Ministry of Health of Kenya has been appointed as the Chair of WHO Executive Board to replace Harsh Vardhan.
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