A Surprising U.S. Intervention at the 66th World Health Assembly Breathes Life Into a Proposed WHO Biomedical R&D Treaty

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For those hoping for a biomedical research and development treaty, the 2013 World Health Assembly (WHA) concluded with a glimmer of hope.  The WHA both called for greater study into current research and development trends and adopted an unexpected U.S. proposal to convene a series of advisory meetings, tasked with developing demonstration projects intended to gauge the likely efficacy of a convention.

A WHO treaty on biomedical research and development has been under consideration for nearly a decade. Debate began in earnest, however, when the WHO Consultative Expert Working Group: Research and Development (CEWG) backed the proposal.  Most controversially, the CEWG report proposed the establishment of a pooled financing mechanism, which would collect contributions from Member States.

Debate at the 2012 WHA was heated, with most of the controversy centering on the mandatory contributions (set at a suggested 0.01% of each country’s GDP).  The United States took particular exception to this plan, stating that it could not “support any proposal that would put in place a new financing mechanism that could be characterized as a globally-collected tax.”  Although many influential low- and middle-income countries were vocal in their support of a convention, strong resistance from the United States, European Union and Japan effectively postponed any progress on the treaty until 2013. The end result was a resolution which simply “welcomed” the report and called for further meetings, which would result in a “substantive item dedicated to the follow up of the CEWG report” at the 2013 WHA. Read More

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O’Neill Institute Blog on Trade, Investment, and Health

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Please check out the O’Neill Institute’s blog on Trade, Investment, and Health

Part of the O’Neill Institute’s Initiative on Trade, Investment, and Health, the blog examines current and emerging issues at the intersection of these fields.

Recent posts include:

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Mobile Phones as a Tool for Providing South African Mothers with Maternal Health Information

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This post was written by Annie Wattenmaker, an intern at the O’Neill Institute and a rising sophomore at the University of Virginia. Any questions or comments can be directed to alw8ew@virginia.edu.

MAMA, the Global Alliance for Maternal Action, has turned into a global movement that uses mobile technology to improve the health of mothers in developing countries. Mothers now use MAMA all throughout South Africa, where they receive daily text messages that provide maternal health tips. Now, instead of having to trek to a clinic, women can receive many messages each week about their baby’s development.

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Commemorations around “World No Tobacco Day”

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This post was written by and Paula Avila Guillen (Institute Associate) and Belen Rios (Research Assistant, Global Health LL.M. ‘13) at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law. Any questions or comments about this post can be directed to pa390@law.georgetown.edu 


World-No-Tobacco-Day-Graphics-1On Friday May 31st, as we mentioned in our blog, all around the globe, tobacco control advocates celebrated World No Tobacco Day. This initiative was created by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1988 to inform the public about the damages of tobacco consumption, the practices of the tobacco industry, and what the WHO is doing to fight the tobacco epidemic, among others. Every year the WHO chooses a topic in order to develop campaigns that will draw global attention to the tobacco epidemic and the actions that are needed in order to stop the epidemic. Previous topics include gender and tobacco, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), and the tobacco  industry’s interference. This year the topic was key: banning tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. 

According to the WHO, “evidence shows that comprehensive advertising bans lead to reductions in the numbers of people starting and continuing smoking. Statistics show that banning tobacco advertising and sponsorship is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce tobacco demand and thus a tobacco control ‘best buy.’” Read More

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Bolivia’s Health at a Crossroad: USAID Is Expelled and Bolivia Launches Its Own Health Program

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Fuera USAID de Bolivia

Cambio (www.cambio.bo)

Only days after the Bolivian Constitutional Court ruled that Evo Morales could run for a third consecutive term in 2014, on May 1, Morales announced USAID’s expulsion from Bolivian soil–another one of Morales’ efforts to decrease U.S. presence and influence in the country (he expelled the U.S. Ambassador and the Drug Enforcement Agency in 2008). Morales accused USAID of conspiring against the Bolivian government and explained that through the expulsion of USAID, the Bolivian government would be “nationalizing” the dignity of the Bolivian people. Since becoming president in 2005, Morales has been using May 1st (Bolivia’s Labor Day) to announce the nationalization of industries. For example, in 2006, Morales signed a decree nationalizing gas reserves in the country, and last year, Morales announced the nationalization of the electric grid. Read More

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The views reflected in this blog are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily represent those of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law or Georgetown University. This blog is solely informational in nature, and not intended as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed and retained attorney in your state or country.

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