Global strategies to improve health in developing countries need truly global discussions

The World Health Organization (WHO) needs to ensure developing countries are involved in the production of a global strategy to boost research into diseases that predominantly affect them, according to an Editorial in this week’s issue of The Lancet.

Between Dec 4-8, WHO’s Intergovernmental Working Group on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property are meeting to discuss such a strategy. However, with a delegate list that excludes more than half of WHO’s member states—a third of the missing are classed as Least Developed Countries by the UN—this working group seems set to perpetuate the very problems it aims to address, states the Editorial.

The Lancet comments: "It should be an unspoken prerequisite for discussions of any global strategy that a globally representative selection of discussants takes part. Too often rich countries strike deals that affect, but do not involve, poor countries. The populations of these cash-strapped nations suffer as a result…WHO can offer valuable support to help poor countries develop and enforce better policies to protect and promote public health while fostering innovation. But a global strategy to formalise this support will not work if WHO cannot bring the necessary players to the discussion table."

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EMBARGO: 00:01H (UK time) Friday December 8, 2006. In North America the embargo lifts at 18:30H EST Thursday December 7, 2006.

Contact: The Lancet press office T) +44 (0) 207 424 4949/4249 pressoffice@lancet.com


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