International law requires countries to adopt minimum standards of intellectual property protection, while also allowing them to adopt measures to protect public health and to promote the public interest. The World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) contains a number of provisions that can be used for that purpose, which became known as TRIPS flexibilities, a right reinforced by the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health adopted in 2001. The actual use of those measures depends on a series of factors, beginning with their adoption into national laws and policies.
Prof. Yousuf Vawda will present an outline of a recently-published paper with a comprehensive overview of the legal and policy frameworks with regard to TRIPS flexibilities and their use to enable access to medicines in selected African countries. He will then make recommendations for optimising the use of the flexibilities to protect public health and analyse the extent to which African countries are equipped to use those measures, including for health emergencies such as the current COVID-19 pandemic. Lynette Mabote will discuss the subject, providing a regional perspective from efforts by civil society organisations from Sub-Saharan Africa working to advance access to medicines in the region including through reforms in national and regional laws to incorporate the use of TRIPS flexibilities.
Senior Research Associate, School of Law,
University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Lead Consultant, Southern African Programme on
Access to Medicines and Diagnostics (SAPAM)