Open Letter to WHO Director General, Margaret Chan

Civil Society Open Letter urging WHO to include Report from UN’s High Level Panel on Access to Medicines on WHO Board Agenda

world-health-organization-logoDear Director General Dr. Margaret Chan

Request to include discussion of the United Nations Secretary-General’s High Level Panel Report on Access to Medicines at the next WHO Board meeting

As members of the Make Medicines Affordable campaign, and other Civil Society and Community Based Organizations working on access to medicines in developing countries, we express our deepest concerns about the rejection of a request to include the United Nations Secretary-General’s High Level Panel Report on Access to Medicines on the agenda of the next WHO Board meeting, in January 2017. The request to the World Health Organization came from several UN Member States and fellow Civil Society Organizations.

On November 22, the Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon made a call to all stakeholders to review the reports and its recommendations to chart a way forward in appropriate fora to ensure access to medicines and health technologies for all who need them, wherever they are. We believe that WHO, as the main UN Organization responsible for health and access to medicines, should take the lead in this process and should make strong recommendations for countries to take action.

As HIV treatment advocates, we used the momentum of the report’s release to engage in serious discussions with our governments and decision makers. We believe that a clear message from WHO at this crucial moment could help us in our advocacy at national level to remove all trade-related barriers that impede access to life-saving medicines.

While we appreciate your recent response to our colleagues from Third World Network on the possibility of discussing the report under existing board agenda items 8.3 and 8.5 , we don’t agree that “lack of emergency” or “time sensitivity” are valid reasons for this topic to be left out. Today, patents on key medicines included in WHO HIV and Hepatitis Treatment Guidelines are being approved in our countries, causing major barriers for access to medicines and implementing your guidelines. Urgent action is needed by our countries and patent offices to remove such barriers.

We, the undersigned organizations, urge you to show strong leadership by defending the inclusion of an agenda item to discuss the report in the next WHO Board meeting; and to send a clear message to Member States to use the policy spaces available to ensure trade barriers and unmerited patents do not continue to prevent access to essential medicines.

Yours Sincerely


1. Aids and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA) – South Africa
2. Acción International Para la Salud (AIS) – Peru
3. AIDS Access Foundation – Thailand
4. Aidsfonds – The Netherlands
5. Al Shehab Institution for Comprehensive Development, Egypt
6. All-Ukrainian Network of PLWHA – Ukraine
7. Associação Brasileira Interdisciplinar de AIDS (ABIA) – Brazil
8. Association de Lutte Contre le SIDA (ALCS) – Morocco
9. Association Tunisienne de Lutte contre les MST et le sida (ATL MST) – Tunis
10. Association Tunisienne de Prévention Positive (ATP+), Tunisia
11. Coalition PLUS – France
12. Fundación Grupo Efecto Positivo (FGEP) – Argentina
13. Health Gap – USA
14. Initiative for Medicine, Access and Knowledge (I-MAK) – USA
15. International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC) – Global
16. International Treatment Preparedness Coalition East Africa – Kenya
17. International Treatment Preparedness Coalition EECA – Russia
18. International Treatment Preparedness Coalition LATCA – Guatemala
19. International Treatment Preparedness Coalition MENA – Morocco
20. Lawyers Collective – India
21. Le Réseau Accès aux Médicaments Essentiels (RAME) – Burkina Faso
22. Médecins du Monde (MdM) – France
23. Partnership Network Association – Kyrgyzstan
24. Positive Malaysian Treatment Access & Advocacy Group (MTAAG+) – Malaysia
25. The Asian Pacific Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (APN+), Thailand
26. The Pan-African Treatment Access Movement (PATAM) – Zimbabwe
27. Third World Network (TWN) – Malaysia

Cc: Dr. Raymond Busuttil, Chairman of the Executive Board, World Health Organization