WHO members adopts strategy to promote research and access to drugs
World health leaders at the annual policy-making meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Saturday endorsed a public health, innovation and intellectual property strategy to promote new approaches to drug research and development and improve access to medicines, dpa reported.
The 61st World Health Assembly (WHA), in a statement released in Geneva, said the strategy would use innovative methods to encourage research, development and access to medicines for common diseases of the developing world.
"This is a major breakthrough for public health that will benefit many millions of people for many years to come," WHO Director-General Margaret Chan was quoted as saying.
The week-long annual WHA - the main decision-making body of the WHO - drew around 2,700 delegates from 190 countries. On the opening day Monday, delegates held a minute's silence for those killed this month in the Myanmar cyclone and the Chinese earthquake.
South African Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu called for concerted action to prevent disease in Africa, saying 8 million Africans a year could be saved as the majority, particularly children, died from preventable diseases.
The WHA on Saturday also endorsed a six-year-action plan to deal with non-communicable diseases. The gathering heard Tuesday that the global burden of disease would shift from infectious diseases such as diarrhoea, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, to non-communicable diseases that would cause 75 per cent of deaths in 2030.
Globally, deaths from cardiovascular diseases would rise from 17 million in 2004 to 23.4 million in 2030, cancer deaths would increase from 7.4 million to 11.8 million in the same period, a WHO study published Tuesday.
Delegates have also agreed on the need for a strategy to curb the harmful use of alcohol, according to the WHA statement. "The work on the strategy will start immediately and member states will be consulted throughout the drafting process," the WHA said.