WHO Council Canvasses Health Innovation Ecosystem Redesign for ‘Common Good’ –report

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Council on Economics of Health for All has called on governments at all levels and other stakeholders, to re-design the health innovation ecosystem to deliver health technologies for “the common good”.

In its first brief, the council called on the public and private sectors to work collaboratively to deliver the needed vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and other essential health supplies that are available equitably to those who can benefit.

In addition, it urged all stakeholders to work towards creating a health innovation ecosystem characterised by purpose-driven and symbiotic public-private partnerships that put the common good front and center.

“Mobilising money to throw at solutions that fail to address the underlying causes of longstanding structural problems will not be sufficient

“We all must look forward towards re-imagining health innovation as part of a new economic ecosystem that can deliver Health for All,’’ according to the council’s brief.

The Council said that just patching up the existing system would not work, rather, a deep change was needed on how intellectual property rights are governed to drive collective intelligence and how corporate governance is structured.

The council said it would also show how the benefits of public investments are shared to avoid the current dynamic of sharing risks, but privatising rewards.

In order to build an inclusive end-to-end health innovation ecosystem able to deliver the appropriate medical technologies required to achieve Health for All equitably, the council said the following were critical:

“Creating purpose-driven innovation through a mission-oriented approach, reshaping knowledge governance to nurture collective intelligence and reforming corporate governance to be more long-term and purpose-oriented.

“Others are building resilient manufacturing capacity and infrastructure.

“Introducing conditionality for public investments to build symbiotic public-private partnerships and strengthening the capacity of the public sector on both the supply and demand side.

The council called for urgent action in four areas: immediate redistribution of available vaccine doses, not as acts of charity, but as a shared imperative for pandemic control and inclusive, equitable and sustainable access.

”Technology transfer and building manufacturing capacity must be supported and financed, not as the responsibility or property of any single actor, but as a collective responsibility towards building health greater health security and resilience.

”Knowledge should not be kept as privatised intellectual property under monopoly control, but considered collective rewards from a collective value creation process to be openly shared and exchanged.

”Existing mechanisms set up to address these aspects, including COVAX, ACT-Accelerator, and the COVID Technology Access Pool, should be utilised and strengthened, not as an approach to fix market failures, but as turning points for creating market-shaping approaches.”

The brief was published ahead of the G7 Leaders’ Summit under the U.K.’s Presidency, which aims to build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic, including strengthening resilience against future pandemics.

It also followed the 74th World Health Assembly and the G20 Global Health Summit co-hosted by Italy and the EU earlier this month.

Established by the WHO in November 2020, Prof. Mariana Mazzucato, a professor of Economics of Innovation and Public Values, is the chair of the council and founding Director in the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose at the University College London while Mr  Sanna Marin, Prime Minister of Finland, is its patron.

Other council members are: Prof. Senait Fisseha, Prof, Jayati Ghosh, Vanessa Huang, Prof. Stephanie Kelton, Prof. Ilona Kickbusch, Dr Zélia Maria Profeta da Luz, Kate Raworth and Dame Marilyn Waring. Dr Vera Songwe will join as a special guest.

The inaugural council member was Linah Mohohlo, a former Governor of the Bank of Botswana (1999-2016), who passed away on June 1.

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