New report provides guidelines for the examination of patent applications relating to pharmaceuticals

The United Nations Development Programme has released a new publication, titled Guidelines for the Examination of Patent Applications relating to Pharmaceuticals, which aims at providing guidance for countries to enhance the functioning and transparency of the patent system for the timely and affordable access to lifesaving treatment. Affordable access to treatment is closely linked with the aspiration to ensure health and well-being for all, as embodied in the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3.

This publication examines initiatives in countries such as Argentina, Ecuador, India and the Philippines; which have taken steps to factor in public health considerations into the examination of patent applications. This approach recognizes the key role that patent offices and patent examiners play in safeguarding the appropriate balance between protecting the rights of inventors and incentivizing innovation, and promoting accessibility and affordability of treatments. The publication proposes a number of recommendations on guidelines that can be adopted as criteria for the examination of patent applications, so that the public health perspective is properly integrated into the procedures for the granting of patents on pharmaceuticals.

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New UNDP HIV, Health and Development Strategy 2016-2021

UNDP has released its new HIV, Health and Development Strategy 2016-2021: Connecting the Dots. The strategy elaborates UNDP's work on HIV and health in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. UNDP has an important role in supporting health outcomes by helping countries to address the social, cultural and economic determinants of HIV and health, in partnership with UN entities and other organizations. This is done through UNDP's core work in reducing inequalities and social exclusion that drive HIV and poor health, promoting effective and inclusive governance for health, and building resilient and sustainable systems for health. UNDP also contributes through its coordinating and convening role in bringing together multiple partners and resources at national and local levels.

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Source: UNDP

India: Social protection allows people with HIV to live with dignity

Purshottam Jat's world came crashing down around him in 1998 when he learned he was HIV positive.

The news came during a business trip to Goa. A trucker by profession, he used to drive across the country to supply marble from Rajasthan to southern parts of India.

Back home in Rajasthan, Purshottam consulted local doctors, who blamed him for his illness and offered no support and even less hope. "I was afraid to ask questions," Purshottam recalls. "Within two years my weight reduced to 33 kilogrammes."

His friends and relatives ostracized him. Predicting that he would die soon, they advised his wife and three children to stay away. Purshottam did not want to die, but could find little reason to fight.

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Review of Country Progress in addressing legal and policy barriers to universal access to HIV services in Asia and the Pacific

UNDP, UNAIDS and ESCAP have jointlyed released a review of country prograess in addressing legal and policy barriers to universal access to HIV services in Asia and the Pacific. The review was jointly conducted to inform preparations of country delegations for the UN General-Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS, 6-8 June 2016 in New York. It highlights significant examples of progress in removing legal and policy barriers to accessing HIV services since 2012. Data for this report is based on country responses from two regional surveys – conducted in January 2015 and February 2016 – from the following countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Cook Island, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nauru, Nepal, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Samoa, Thailand, Vanuatu and Viet Nam. It also draws from a desk review of data reported from countries on these legal and policy reviews and consultations, and related developments in the legal and policy environment for HIV responses in Asia and the Pacific. The report greatly benefited from review and inputs during the drafting phase from government representatives, civil society organizations, UNAIDS and UNDP country offices, ESCAP, and other development partners.

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Laws criminalizing drug possession can cause more harm

By Tenu Avafia, Team Leader, Rights, Law and Treatment Access, HIV, Health and Development and Rebecca Schleifer, Consultant, HIV, Human Rights and the Law

In many countries, a criminal record, even for a minor offense, can have serious implications. Being convicted of a crime makes you ineligible for certain jobs, social programmes or benefits or from even being able to exercise your right to vote.

A criminal record can also severely limit the ability to travel to certain countries and can result in the loss of custody of minor children. As prison conditions are often poor and health care services limited, a custodial sentence can have negative impacts on the person's health.

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