Despite enormous progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease, developing countries often remain largely excluded from the benefits of modern science. Caught in a cycle of poverty and disease, people in the hardest-hit countries are facing shorter life expectancies and economic decline.

The issue of better access to healthcare products for poor populations has been the subject of many World Health Assembly resolutions. In May 2006, at the Fifty-ninth World Health Assembly, Member States established an Intergovernmental Working Group on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property (IGWG).

The Working Group’s mandate was to prepare a global strategy and plan of action on public health, innovation and intellectual property to address conditions disproportionately affecting developing countries.

From December 2006 till May 2008, WHO Member States and other stakeholders met in three meetings of the Intergovernmental Working group (and also in regional consultations and other multilateral meetings linked to the IGWG), to discuss ways to foster innovation, build capacity and improve access to health products to achieve better health outcomes in developing countries. Their work was enhanced by written submissions from Member States on various negotiating texts, as well as inputs from a wide range of stakeholders through two web-based public hearings.

In May 2008, the Sixty-first World Health Assembly adopted Resolution WHA 61.21: Global strategy and plan of action on public health, innovation and intellectual property
The global strategy and plan of action is comprised of eight elements, which are designed to promote innovation, build capacity, improve access and mobilize resources.

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