“The GSPA is extended until 2022”
The Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property is extended until 2022. But its implementation should be properly evaluated for informing the next steps.
[Read HIP statement on GSPA at EB 136]
Governments value the Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property (GSPA) and want it further implemented.
On 3rd February 2015, as the WHO’s Executive Board is about to end, Member States unanimously recognise that the GSPA should be extended to allow for further implementation. But they stress the need for next activities in this regard to be based on a careful, in depth evaluation of what has been implemented so far.
The resolution proposed by Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, India and South Africa is adopted. It recommends to the upcoming 68th WHA to extend the deadline of the overall programme review of the GSPA to 2018 (recognising it was not presented in 2015) and to extend the time frame of the plan of action until 2022.
It requests the WHO’s Director General to provide a report to the 68th WHA – in consultation with member states – “on options for the conduct of the comprehensive evaluation and the overall programme review of the GSPA, on its achievements, remaining challenges and recommendations on the way forward, including whether to combine the two instruments, sequencing, TORs, timing and options for establishing and evaluation management group with the goal of completing the exercise by 2018”.
Critical issues are raised with the process and timeline.
1) There is no detailed information regarding essential elements, i.e. who will conduct the evaluation, and what will be the terms of reference, the evaluation methodology and the mechanism of oversight. It is still unclear whether the evaluation will be conducted by a management consultancy firm, an independent group of experts or WHO’s evaluation unit. Yet, several member states express strong views with regard to the desired independence, transparency and expertise needed for the exercise to bring good quality analysis and pertinent, useful recommendations.
The resolution simply requests the DG to provide the upcoming WHA with options for the way forward. While EB members discussed in an earlier draft the establishment of an evaluation management group – some proposing that it is composed of 4 Member States from each region – the resolution finally adopted does not mention it anymore, leaving to the DG to propose “options for establishing an evaluation management group”.
2) The GSPA was adopted in 2008 after long and painstaking negotiations. While the World Health Assembly requested in May 2009 the WHO Director-General (WHA62.16) “to conduct an overall programme review of the global strategy and plan of action in 2014 on its achievements, remaining challenges and recommendations on the way forward to the Health Assembly in 2015”, the exercise did not take place as requested. The matter was indeed discussed by the Executive Board (EB) in May 2013 (133rd EB session) that endorsed the approach suggested by the Secretariat to combine the independent, comprehensive evaluation of the GSPA with the overall programme review. The timeline of the evaluation was then postponed to 2017.
While this sequence of events raises serious questions regarding WHO’s governance – as this decision was not brought to the World Health Assembly (WHA) for further consideration and approval, implying that the EB could overrule a decision made by the WHA – it has also implications on the coherence and relevance of the planned evaluation and review exercises.
Not to ask the Secretariat to report on GSPA implementation the very year it was to end, i.e. 2015, looks sensible at this point in time, given the successive delays that occurred. But further postponing any type of review of the successes and failures of GSPA’s implementation so far raises more fundamental questions. While one cannot expect a good, in depth evaluation to take place over a few months only, one really wonders what is the guiding value of a report presented in May 2018, already half way through the 2nd phase of implementation. The GSPA implementation has been scanty so far – especially at country level – its financing limited and piecemeal, and the reasons for this need to be thoroughly analysed for improved planning and targeted, efficient interventions of the next phase.
The lessons learnt from the first 7 years of implementation of the GSPA should inform the implementation during the extended period of an additional 7 years, and lead to a better one. Timely evaluation is essential for this to happen.