Info Service on Intellectual Property Issues (May09/07)
Geneva, 25 May (Sangeeta Shashikant) -- Member states of the World Health Organization (WHO) participating in the sixty-second World Health Assembly have agreed to continue their deliberations on the framework for influenza virus and benefit-sharing, including the Standard Material Transfer Agreement (SMTA).
A two-day Intergovernmental Meeting (IGM) that had met earlier to finalise negotiations on the framework for influenza virus and benefit-sharing ended on 16 May without completing its work, with crucial core elements of the framework unresolved and with significant divergences between developed and developing countries.
countries, in particular the
According to some delegates participating in the IGM and the World Health Assembly (WHA), these countries were not in favour of resuming the IGM, as they did not wish for their manufacturers to commit to fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of the virus samples and sequence information through an SMTA.
However, a large number of developing countries wish to see the process continuing, as the mandate of WHA 60.28, which led to the establishment of the IGM, remains unfulfilled.
In particular, the draft standards' terms and conditions for the sharing for virus and benefits have not been agreed to. This includes the SMTA which member states have agreed would be a component of the framework for influenza virus and benefit-sharing.
The WHA thus agreed to take forward the agreed parts of the framework that emerged from the IGM and entrust further deliberations to WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan.
The WHA agreed that the Director-General would "facilitate a transparent process to finalize the remaining elements, including the Standard Material Transfer Agreement (SMTA) and its annex, and report the outcome to the Executive Board at its 126th session in January 2010".
language emerged as compromise language after days of consultation following
a resolution proposed by a group of developing countries.
It requested the Director-General "to work with Member states to take forward the agreed parts of the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework for the sharing of influenza viruses and access to vaccines and other benefits as contained in the report of the outcome of the Intergovernmental Meeting".
It also requested the Director-General "to facilitate and support further negotiations among all Member states to conclude the remaining elements, including the Standard Material Transfer Agreement (SMTA) and its annex and report the outcomes of such negotiations to the Executive Board at its 126th session in January 2010".
draft resolution was proposed by
to several delegations, several countries, in particular the
However the compromise language agreed to was that the Director-General would facilitate a transparent process to finalize the remaining elements.
Many developing-country delegations spoke in favour of continuing the deliberations to conclude work that had begun on influenza virus and benefit-sharing.
Director-General Dr. Chan also did not seem keen to continue the IGM process.
On the new process, Chan said that she needed flexibility and would observe geographical balance and a mix of skill.
Several countries pushed for a more open-ended process that would allow all interested member states to participate. However, Dr. Chan appeared reluctant for that to happen.
It expressed disappointment that the IGM process that was held on 15-16 May managed to delete any reference to the LDCs, simply because a previous informal process of which it was not a part of agreed to do so.
The matter was resolved with Dr. Chan suggesting a "transparent process" instead of an "open process". Dr. Chan also said that she will ensure that the process to finalise the remaining elements is "participatory" and "done in a transparent and fair manner", with "the views of all countries taken into account". +