The World Health Organisation (WHO) is holding its annual executive board meeting in Geneva this week. The meeting sets the agenda and proposed resolutions for its world health assembly in May, when health ministers gather to debate global health issues and set future policies. One of the many action items on the agenda is to “foster innovation and access to health products by appropriate intellectual property rules and management”. It is unlikely that we will see innovative thinking from a board that continues to presume patents are a major barrier to access to medicines, and thus a major obstacle to health and development. The WHO does important and much-needed work tackling preventable and communicable diseases, particularly those that are transnational. But it also devotes millions of dollars towards controversial issues such as obesity and intellectual property rights that really should be dealt with by sovereign governments and individuals. Perhaps captured by political intere...

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