WHO, WIPO and WTO Symposium on Cutting-Edge Health Technologies Marks a Decade of Cooperation

October 31, 2019

The World Health Organization (WHO), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) commemorated on October 31, 2019, 10 years of coordination in the field of public health, intellectual property (IP) and trade.  A technical symposium was held at WTO headquarters in Geneva to mark this milestone.

Photo of the symposium attendees in a group meeting
(Photo: WTO)

Commenting on the collaboration, WIPO Director General Francis Gurry said: “The trilateral cooperation constitutes an exceptionally valuable mechanism to address the complexity of the globalized world, in which innovation and trade play critical roles in improving the health of people everywhere.”

The three organizations meet regularly, exchange information on their respective work programs and discuss and plan, within the possibilities of their respective mandates, common activities.  Meetings rotate between the three organizations. The collaboration contributes to enhancing the empirical and factual information basis for policy makers and supporting them in addressing public health in relation to IP and trade.

2019 symposium

The symposium – the eighth of its kind – was entitled, “Cutting-Edge Health Technologies: Opportunities and Challenges”. Speaking on behalf of Mr. Gurry at the opening of the meeting, WIPO Assistant Director General Minelik Alemu Getahun, said the collaboration between three key organizations has contributed to a better understanding of the issues and the specificity of each organization in the overall discussion on health, innovation and trade.

Experts from academia, biotech and healthcare discussed cutting-edge technologies and future health outcomes through biotechnology, information technology and big data during the first panel. The second panel talked about the opportunities and challenges of maximizing the benefits of these technologies from the perspectives of health, IP and trade.

WIPO’s Director of the Global Challenges Division Marion Dietterich moderated a panel on maximizing benefits of cutting-edge technologies.

“Innovation doesn’t end in the lab. Putting these cutting-edge health technologies to use requires that countries and global institutions put innovative policy frameworks in place,” she said.

Each of the three organizations gave an update of recent work related to the symposium’s theme. WIPO’s Co-Editor of the Global Innovation Index (GII) in the Economics and Statistics Division Sacha Wunsch-Vincent shared key findings from this year’s GII, which analyzed the medical innovation landscape of the next decade.

“The two fundamental questions addressed in WIPO’s GII 2019 are whether we are we about to (re-)enter a new 'golden age' of medical innovation, and what new innovation practices and policies are required to get us there,” said Mr. Wunsch-Vincent.

WHO presented updates on the WHO Model list of Essential Medicines and WTO illustrated how trade data can be used to measure trade in new technologies.

Find out more

Further information on the meeting, including links to presentations is available at the WTO website and WIPO’s Global Health website.