International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) Statement EB Special session on the draft Thirteenth General Programme of Work

Published on: 22 November 2017

International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) Statement EB Special session on the draft Thirteenth General Programme of Work

On behalf of the research-based pharmaceutical industry, the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) welcomes this opportunity to provide feedback to the Executive Board on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) consultation on the Draft WHO 13th General Programme of Work 2019–2023 (GPW13).

Following on from the comments on the Draft Concept Note for the GPW13 which we provided in October, we would like to restate our support for the Director-General’s strong desire to identify initiatives for change, the clear focus on outcomes and impact in the GPW13 and the efforts to reinforce the global political leadership role that WHO has in health.

We are pleased to see the SDGs providing a clear underpinning to the GPW13 given the integral role which health plays in achieving sustainable development, and are also supportive of the coherent strategic priorities outlined in the document, articulated through health coverage, health emergencies and health priorities, and the ambitious “triple billion target” associated with fulfilling these priorities.

We very much share the Director-General’s passionate commitment to universal health coverage (UHC) and strongly believe that we are well-equipped to contribute towards this fundamental priority. While UHC is ultimately a responsibility of national governments, we were pleased to see GPW13 acknowledge the broad range of policies required to work towards improving access to medicines, which is itself core to UHC. We look forward to continuing a constructive dialogue with WHO on how to achieve UHC, recognizing the need for holistic solutions to the various barriers to access to medicines that do not narrowly focus on “cost of medicines.”  As noted by WHO, we urgently need “domestic investment in coverage schemes that reduces out-of-pocket payments”.

In the context of UHC, we call for stronger emphasis on routine immunization as a key foundation for UHC, given its prominence as the most widespread healthcare intervention and its effectiveness as a tool in both preventing outbreaks of infectious diseases and its role in combatting antimicrobial resistance (AMR). We also encourage WHO to draw greater attention to the need to ensure healthy ageing and to urgently push for concerted action on tackling dementia, both of which are pressing in today’s shifting demographic era and which pose tremendous emotional and economic burden on families and healthcare systems. In the spirit of the SDGs and leaving no-one behind, we would urge that UHC and “health for all” ensures that no part of the population is overlooked, such as those suffering from rare diseases.

Having urged for AMR to be given much greater emphasis in our comments on the draft concept note, we were particularly pleased to see the WHO list AMR as one of the four “flagship initiative areas” to focus on. We agree that AMR does indeed represent an “existential, trillion dollar threat” to global health and we strongly support the WHO’s efforts to ensure a joined up, horizontal, platform approach to tackling AMR that we see our industry as being at the very heart of. We look forward to working closely with the WHO to find collaborative and impactful solutions, in the spirit of multisectoral action and partnerships – identified as being crucial by the WHO to these flagship areas -and given WHO’s opportunity to step up global leadership and drive the call to action.

We reiterate our support for WHO’s call for collective action and multistakeholder engagement to meet the numerous global health challenges we face, and in particular the need to engage with non-State actors such as ourselves. In this regard, we were pleased to see that following our call in the last round of comments on the concept note for greater consideration of the private sector as a collaborator to fully harness capabilities in innovation, we see that the private sector is firmly acknowledged as a principal actor for scaling innovation.

We fully agree that the GPW13 will not be achievable without partnering with the private sector, amongst others, and whilst we welcome the reference to GPW13 being a potential catalyst for partnerships between non-State actors and government, we once again restate that we look forward to the newly-adopted FENSA being interpreted by the organization-at-large as an enabler to WHO better engaging in productive collaborations – not just in words, as elaborated in the GPW13 – but in actions.

Our industry remains proud of the various steps we have made in addressing serious health challenges – from our ongoing work in developing new or improved treatments and vaccines for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) to the life-changing achievements we have made in HIV/AIDS, transforming the disease from a once-guaranteed killer to a chronic illness that can be managed. Much of this work has involved working with the WHO, and IFPMA, and its members, look forward to continuing and strengthening our longstanding history of collaboration, particularly through the contribution of our broad scientific and technical expertise. Where possible and relevant, we will endeavor to provide support to WHO in this new era of global health leadership and to work together with meaning and purpose to deliver on our shared objective for improved health outcomes and impacts.