Title of the activity
Innovation in, and access to, new and emerging health technologies. Joint technical symposium by the WHO, WIPO and WTO.
Activity Type
Global workshop/symposium
Application Deadline Date
Innovation in, and access to, health technologies are requisite elements for ensuring progress toward universal health coverage, the right of everyone to enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, and the achievement of the health-related Sustainable Development Goals. Scientific progress and advances in health technologies, including medicines, vaccines, medical devices, diagnostics, assistive products, cell- and gene-based therapies, and other health technologies have contributed to unprecedented improvements in health outcomes. New and emerging technologies open previously unknown diagnostic and treatment options, having the potential of making an essential contribution to the achievement of universal health coverage. Despite these great advances, significant challenges remain. Gains in life expectancy and quality of life are unequally shared or distributed between low-, middle-, and high-income countries. Troubling inequalities in the burden of disease are, in part, attributed to the disparate access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines.
The first panel will introduce new and emerging technologies and outline options and perspectives for future health outcomes. Biotechnology has been able to develop new diagnostic tools and treatment methods as well as innovative biotherapeutic pharmaceutical products. Information technology (IT) has entered all relevant health fields and is used by health administration professionals to facilitate healthcare data management. Medical and assistive devices can produce a wealth of data as they fulfil their therapeutic functions. Such data can be used as a better empirical basis for system-wide improvements. Data can also be processed directly in advanced IT systems in an increasingly autonomous manner to analyse health conditions and to adapt and personalize treatments to individuals. IT plays an increasing role in diagnosis, research and development (R&D), and treatment, including efforts to provide more personalized treatment. Responding to the evolving global disease burden requires further innovation for specific diseases, and needs-driven research in general, as well as ensuring access to and affordability of new treatments.
The second panel will review opportunities and challenges linked to new technologies from a health, intellectual property and trade perspective. Some of the more complex technologies may require sophisticated know-how and equipment. Access to new technologies may not work through a technology-transfer license since implementing technology may depend on extensive knowledge transfer and an appropriate technical environment, such as a laboratory, information technology equipment, or an appropriate R&D/clinical infrastructure. These requirements can lead to high costs for diagnostics and treatments, which poses new challenges in ensuring patient access and affordability, particularly in environments with high out-of-pocket payments. Increasing healthcare costs also pose problems to health insurance providers in high-income countries. Accessing and processing personal, and possibly sensitive and/or confidential patient data, has its own ethical challenges, including obtaining prior informed consent and the applicability of various personal data protection laws.
Host Country
WTO - Room W
Trade topic
Start Date
End Date
Activity Level
Target Audience
Government officials
Key Result
1. Government officials are implementing WTO Agreements and fully realising Members' rights and obligations
Key Output
1.1: Government officials have enhanced knowledge about the WTO Agreements, formulation of trade policies and conduct of trade negotiations
4. Geneva-based Advanced Thematic Courses and topic-specific symposia for Capital-based officials