Friday, December 07, 2007

Geneva Workshop - Health and Patent Flexibilities

The WTO Workshop on TRIPS and Public Health in Geneva earlier this month included participation from 19 officials of developing countries.
Part of the WTO's technical cooperation and capacity-building activities, this workshop was particularly interesting for its emphais on the use of flexibilities in TRIPS for public health purposes.

In particular, the workshop delivered training on the August 2003 and December 2005 decisions, the so-called "paragraph 6 system" of compulsory licensing.

Participants came from including Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, the Gambia, Hong Kong China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jamaica, Malaysia, Mali, Namibia, Peru, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Turkey, Vietnam and Zambia.

Indonesia, a participant at the workshop, has been at the forefront of recent initiatives in public health. The country is maintaining its stance against participation in the World Health Organisation (WHO) virus-sharing programme, refusing to share bird flu virus samples unless material transfer agreements can place conditions on the subsequent vaccine, including conditions on commercial use, pricing and the creation of intellectual property rights. The New Scientist reports that Jakarta has shared just two specimens this year, both from the tourist resort of Bali.
Public health has been on the agenda for a lot of the WTO's cooperation events recently, including a workshop in the Asia-Pacific in July this year.