replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) once we reach the 2015 deadline. This is still an open field; for those wishing to set the parameters of the discussions and ultimately influence the outcome, the time is now. Health objectives are central to the Rachel Kiddell-Monroe
MDGs, but the discussions on the future of MDGs Bryan Collinsworth
mostly take place outside health forums, including Laura Musselwhite
in discussions on sustainable development. This In 2001, law students at Yale convinced their is a key element to note, as it is an increasingly university, along with the drug company Bristol- important reality of global governance. Decisions Myers Squibb (BMS), to take steps to allow made in non-health institutions or forums, such a 30-fold price reduction in Africa for a life- as forums focusing on trade, environment, or saving HIV/AIDS treatment discovered by Yale security, can have significant impacts of the health researchers. Yale had originally licensed this of populations. It is to better understand this reality medical breakthrough—stavudine—exclusively to and to offer recommendations as to how health BMS, giving the company a patent monopoly to can be taken better into account in multiple arenas sell the drug at prices poor Africans simply couldn’t afford. Students pushed Yale and BMS to allow low-cost generic versions in South Africa, and the results were dramatic. As Dr. Eric Goemaere of honour of being one of its commissioners, and I am happy to invite the readers of the Health Diplomacy “Today, 12,000 patients are on ARVs [anti- was recently published by the Commission.
retrovirals] in Khayelitsha and an estimated 800,000 nationwide. This is in great deal thanks to a few courageous and idealistic Yale students who managed to dig a first small hole in the IP [intellectual property] fortress. No one in that time could have imagined it would make the fortress collapse, change public opinion and have such consequences on survival of millions of people.”a rolE for univErsitiEsStavudine was not an isolated case: 10 million people lack access to essential medicines each year, largely due to high prices created by patent monopolies. The Yale students’ key insight was that universities, as major contributors to medical research, had a responsibility to become part Published by the Centre for Trade Policy and Law
1125 Colonel By Drive | Ottawa, Ontario | K1S 5B6 | of the solution rather than part of the problem. getting fired up about the impact of health research They formed the non-profit Universities Allied for and licensing policies in their own countries. Essential Medicines (UAEM) as a student-driven Students in Brazil have started UAEM chapters, movement to promote equitable global access and devising locally appropriate ways to highlight innovation in publicly funded medical research. universities’ role in promoting global access to Through UAEM’s advocacy, universities that license essential medicines. Supporting these students is medical research to industry have now begun to a key part of UAEM’s mission: we seek to empower include requirements for generic production or students worldwide to advocate for health access, “at cost” provisions for low- and middle-income thereby developing new global health leaders.
countries. These “global access” provisions lower By working with universities to make sure medical the price of the final products for poor patients, and discoveries reach those in need, students also have been adopted by leading institutions including ensure that these institutions respect their public Harvard, Yale, the University of British Columbia, mission and keep the interests of patients above and the US National Institutes for Health (NIH). Ten those of profit. Globally, students will make Nobel Laureates—among them, Desmond Tutu of sure that governments hear the same message. South Africa and MSF—also support this strategy.
As students told delegates at a UN meeting in New York last September, even chronic “non- communicable” diseases now disproportionately While over 30 research institutions worldwide strike youth in the Global South. Youth from around have endorsed a “Statement of Principles and the world can and must contribute solutions to Strategies” supporting global access to their these health challenges, and those solutions must medical discoveries, the students of UAEM want to include access to life-saving medicines discovered ensure that this translates into real-world impact. The statement itself should be strengthened, and individual universities can adopt more robust policies. Most importantly, however, universities Rachel Kiddell-Monroe is President of UAEM must demonstrate that they are regularly including ( Previously, Rachel global access provisions in their licensing worked for over 15 years with Médecins Sans negotiations with pharmaceutical companies.
Frontières as Head of Mission in the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa and throughout Latin Improving the transparency of universities and America. She was also the Canadian Director of the MSF’s Access to Medicines Campaign. their licensing practices is critical. Not only do universities need to ensure affordable access to Bryan Collinsworth is Executive Director of UAEM, and Laura Musselwhite is a fourth-year medical their medical breakthroughs, but they also need to show that they are committing resources, both human and financial, to research on “neglected diseases.” It is not just the pharmaceutical industry that neglects devastating illnesses like malaria and Chagas disease—which predominantly affect poor populations—to pursue more profitable research. Sadly, academic scientists and institutions also neglect them. Universities must invest in research on neglected diseases to begin to address the huge inequity in treatments available for poor patients in the Global South.
studEnt movEmEnt sprEading to global southSince the stavudine case, UAEM has grown into a global network that is present on over 70 campuses worldwide and includes students of law, medicine, science, and public health. This growth includes students in the Global South, who are


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