In a recently released report sharing the decisions of the 34th meeting of the Assembly of the Union, the African Union (AU) expressed support for the proposed intellectual property (IP) waiver being discussed at the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Médecins Sans Frontières / Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) welcomes this approval by the AU to support this historic proposal at the WTO which would allow countries to choose not to apply or apply certain types of IP on COVID-medical tools. 19 during the pandemic. In recent months, several international organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Program on HIV / AIDS (UNAIDS), Unitaid and drugs for neglected diseases initiative (MDNI) have issued statements in support of this critical waiver.
The proposal launched by India and South Africa is now officially co-sponsored by Eswatini, Kenya, Mozambique, Pakistan, Mongolia, Venezuela, Bolivia and Egypt. However, a small group of WTO members, including the EU, UK, US, Japan, Switzerland and Australia, continue to refuse their support.
Candice Sehoma, advocacy officer for the access campaign, MSF South Africa:
“By politically endorsing this historic proposal, the African Union is providing a crucial boost to the continent’s support for the renunciation of intellectual property during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is disappointing that several developed countries continue to block this historic waiver effort in the context of a raging pandemic. With South Africa, India and other official Cosponsors urgently in need of the support of as many countries as possible to make this proposal a reality, we hope to see all African countries now join together as as official co-authors.
Ensuring access to the equitable and affordable medical tools needed to respond to this pandemic can no longer simply be left to companies that continue to follow the usual approach of maximizing profits. Governments must act now to achieve consensus on this game-changing proposal and meet their obligations to protect public health. We also call on opposing countries to stop blocking this critical waiver and withdraw from the negotiations, allowing other countries to quickly reach consensus. “