CEWG report on Research and Development. Financing and Coordination 26 – 28 November 2012
The Intervention by Ambassador Steffen Kongstad, Permanent Representative of Norway can be read here;
We wish to join others in congratulating you Dr. Viroj on the election as chair of this important meeting. We are confident that you will guide us through these coming days in a very competent way. We would also like to thank the Secretariat for the preparations that have gone in to this meeting; we found the background report particularly useful in structuring our own thinking on the matter.
How to increase research and development of diseases that primarily affect developing countries has been a key challenge for decades. Progress has been achieved, but much remains to be done. The report delivered by the Consultative Expert Working Group offers a thorough analysis of the shortfalls of the current incentive systems and makes a convincing case for why increased and concerted efforts are needed, both nationally and globally.
Securing access to simple and affordable medicines in developing countries is an important priority for Norway. Together with President Jonathan of Nigeria, our Prime Minister chaired the UN Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children. The Commission, which delivered its report to the UN Secretary General in September, sets out ten bold recommendations to ensure that women and children get the right medicines at the right time. Thirteen essential products have been identified. We have already made a contribution to the trust fund that supports the implementation plan following the Commission’s work, and will make a new allocation next year. Norway’s total contribution to global health programs in 2013 will be 423 million USD, up one third from this year.
Norway fully shares the goal of ensuring that innovation and discoveries also meet the health needs of developing countries. The CEWG report provides us with practical recommendations on how to amend the uneven distribution of global health research flows and is an excellent point of departure for our deliberations these coming days. We are looking forward to engage constructively in the discussions on how to enhance the monitoring, coordination and financing of research and development to meet the health needs of developing countries.
As underlined in the report, these three functions are fundamentally interlinked. Sustainable and long-term funding must be available for research and development to address the diseases that primarily affect developing countries if we are to see tangible results of enhanced monitoring and coordination. We would caution against spending a lot of time discussing global action and new structures until it is clear that we will have a solid financial basis for increased investment in this area.
Norway is prepared to do her part. My government has decided to allocate 10% of next year‘s total budget assigned to global health to health research. With this we fulfill the goal put forth in the report that all countries should spend at least 0,01% of GDP on R&D devoted to meet the health needs of developing countries for 2013. We are also prepared to contribute to a pooled funding mechanism at the global level, should this ambition become a reality.
That being said, we fully concur with CEWG that funding for this kind of research and development is a shared responsibility, also at the global level. Now that economic growth has lifted many countries out of the low-income bracket into the middle-income group, we look forward to a more significant response to the call for increased financing. We are ready to join in a pooled funding mechanism when we see there is sufficient momentum in this direction. In that sense, we fully concur with the critical factors for the success of any new financing mechanism listed by WHO in the background paper.
Furthermore, we believe that any follow up of the CEWG report should rely to the extent possible on already existing structures. We see a clear role for WHO in this picture. Consolidating the current mechanisms through which WHO is supporting research initiatives would also bring important gains. TDR for research and training in tropical diseases is also an option worth exploring when it comes to accommodating new functions relating to R&D to address diseases that primarily affect developing countries.
In closing, let me underline that time has come to make some real gains in this area. Let us not spend our limited time on fruitless discussions on what divides us, but rather use these three days to concentrate our efforts on concrete actions we can all unite behind.