In an unprecedented show of collaboration, the WHO, WIPO and WTO, three of the largest global bodies involved in social and economic development have conducted joint research on the role of innovation in the health sector and how to increase people’s access to medicines the world over. Their findings have been published in a widely acclaimed volume.
The focus of the book remains on the development of medical technologies. The stress is on the importance of developing innovative drugs and technologies to provide health care to those who need it most. While coming up with new technologies is important, it is equally essential that these technologies be transported to serve deprived communities. This is where health care integrates with international economics and intellectual property rights.
A Picture of the Future
The book presents several studies that point towards the significant health challenges of the future. For instance, one study shows that the number of deaths caused by tuberculosis, malaria and even HIV/AIDS will decline towards 2030. At the same time, deaths caused by cerebrovascular disease, ischaemic heart disease and cancers will continue to increase. Of all three, deaths from various cancers will increase at a much faster rate.
The Importance of Innovation
The book helps to create the required sense of urgency for dealing with global health issues and improving the level of health services available to disadvantaged and underprivileged communities worldwide. It emphasizes the role of the public health sector in dealing with these urgent problems. It states that innovation needs to be taken seriously in the medical field. The study notes that disparity in health services exists in the world that needs to be bridged through equitable distribution of health resources.
The study also clarifies the legal and policy issues that can hinder innovation in the health sector. The interrelationships between the health, trade and intellectual property have been illustrated in a meaningful and comprehensible manner.
Encouraging Research in the Health Sector
The book suggests that research companies in the health sector need to be provided the right kind of encouragement to pursue innovation in the field. They stress the need for strengthening intellectual property rights and their implementation so that research firms can develop better drugs and technologies without having to worry about recovering their costs. The book explains that the patent system is an important part of the international health care sector because it provides protection to the innovator and allows it to recover its costs by marketing the product.
One study in the joint publication illustrates how the number of patent applications received from pharmaceutical companies internationally has declined since 2008. They stress that this trend needs to be reversed through better enforcement of patent laws and enabling research firms to develop new drugs for the future.
The findings presented in this book will prove to be invaluable for policy makers in diverse fields. In addition, lawmakers, NGOs and government officials will also be able to identify areas of collaboration with one another to improve the quality of health care services.