Doha agreement puts life before profit

It is a huge relief to know that there will no longer be a legal or commercial reason to let people die.

Nairobi - The Kenya Coalition For Access to Essential Medicines1 today applauded the success of the developing countries in Doha, Qatar. The Doha Declaration on TRIPS2 and Public Health affirmed that governments are free to take all necessary measures to protect public health. Very simply, it puts governments in the driving seat to be able to put life before profit. In practical terms, this means if pharmaceutical company prices are beyond the reach of the poor, Kenya can disregard the patent without fear of reprisal. "This is a great victory that puts the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the Ministers for Trade and Health to bring down the cost of essential medicines and increase access to life-saving treatments for the Kenyan people," said Sisule Frederick Musungu an independent lawyer, "The next step is to effectively use all existing provisions of the law to make this a reality for Wanjiku." "Nothing should prevent poor country governments to act in the interest of their peoples health. For example, if tomorrow, we want to have access to a basic life-saving medicine such as fluconazole3 for 18 ksh as opposed to the current price of 662 ksh4 we can,"said Sophie-Marie Scouflaire, Regional Pharmacist for Medecins Sans Frontieres. "In Kenya the immediate need is for the Ministry of Health to speedily identify good quality generic suppliers and register their medicines to make them available for use." "It is a huge relief to know that there will no longer be a legal or commercial reason to let people die," said Eva Ombaka of Ecumenical Pharmaceutical Network "Kenyan and African lives can and will be saved if everyone fulfils their responsibility." Two years ago, many poor countries felt they were powerless against the will of wealthy ones and their pharmaceutical companies. This week it was clear, that the solidarity maintained by the 60 developing nations at the WTO5 ministerial meeting in Doha has paid off. The victory in Doha is really for people who need or will need access to life- saving or life- extending medicines.

Footnotes: 1The Kenya Coalition on Access to Essential Medicines includes: Action Aid, The Association of People living with AIDS in Kenya (TAPWAK); Health Action International (HAI Africa); Network for people living with HIV/AIDS (NEPHAK); Women Fighting AIDS in Kenya (WOFAK); Society for Woman and AIDS in Kenya (SWAK); Nyumbani; International; CARE International; Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF); DACASA; Kenya Medical Association (KMA); Consumer Information Network; Campaigners for AIDS Free Society. 2 - TRIPS -WTO agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights 3 - Fluconazole an antifungal used to treat amongst other things cryptococcal meningitis 4 - Price per 200 mg capsule 5 - WTO- World Trade Organization