WTO Council for TRIPS
5 to 7 March 2002

Statement by the representative of the World Health Organization

"As we are taking the floor for the first time since the Doha Ministerial Declaration, WHO would like to congratulate WTO members for the attention and interest given to the health sector and to the access to essential medicines in particular. We would like also to welcome China as a new member of the WTO.

The Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health, adopted by the WTO Ministerial Conference, in November 2001, which affirms that the TRIPS Agreement "can and should be interpreted and implemented in a manner supportive of WTO Members' right to protect public health and, in particular, to promote access to medicines for all" marks a watershed in international trade, demonstrating that a rules-based trading system should be compatible with public health interests. The Declaration enshrines the principle WHO has publicly advocated and advanced over the last four years, namely, the re-affirmation of the right of WTO Members to make full use of the safeguard provisions of the TRIPS Agreement in order to protect public health and promote access to medicines.

WHO will continue to advise countries on the implications of globalization on public health and access to medicines, as mandated by relevant WHA resolutions. Furthermore, WHO will assess the implications of the Doha Declaration as they relate to access to medicines. It will continue to advise Member States, upon their request, on the implementation of the Declaration into national legislation which affects access to medicines.

WHO is prepared to support WTO and the WTO Council for TRIPS, in whatever way they would wish, including the Doha Ministerial Declaration's instruction to find an expeditious solution about the use of compulsory licensing by WTO Members with insufficient or no manufacturing capacities in the pharmaceutical sector."

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