Local production and technology transfer has been viewed by countries and regions as a strategy to improve timely, equitable access to quality, safe, and effective health products and contribute toward achieving the health-related targets of the SDGs. The Local Production and Assistance Unit in the Regulation and Prequalification Department, Access to Medicines and Health Products Division, WHO, has been providing support to Member States and regions to promote and strengthen local production and technology transfer in a holistic, strategic manner to achieve this.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, strategic local production of health products (medicines, vaccines, biologics, medical devices, in-vitro diagnostics, etc.) in low- and middle-income countries assumed greater significance as many low- and middle-income countries experienced inequitable access to priority life-saving products. As countries and regions are embarking on building and strengthening local production capacity of health products to reduce reliance on importation and prepare for future pandemics, partners and stakeholders are also ramping up efforts to support countries and regions in strengthening local production. The Second World Local Production Forum: Enhancing access to medicines and other health technologies (WLPF) is being organized by WHO, and hosted by The Kingdom of the Netherlands, from 6-8 November 2023 at The Hague, Netherlands to foster global coordination and synergies among Member States and the global community, galvanize collective action and shape the strategy and direction globally of local production and technology transfer.
The WHO Technical Advisory Group on Local Production and Technology Transfer (TAG-LPTT) of Health Products successfully convened its inaugural meeting on 6 September 2023 to discuss current and future issues globally that impact local production and technology transfer and the importance of the upcoming 2nd WLPF in sustaining this global momentum in local production and technology transfer in a coordinated, collective manner. From open dialogue among the members, the TAG-LPTT provided technical and strategic advice toward exploring solutions to overcome the challenges and bottlenecks faced by Member States and regions in strengthening local production and technology transfer and on the upcoming 2nd WLPF.
In May 2021, the World Health Assembly adopted resolution WHA74.6 on Strengthening local production of medicines and other health technologies to improve access, signaling the important role of local production and technology transfer as a strategy to improve timely, equitable access during peacetime and pandemics.
In the context of resolution WHA74.6, WHO launched a new initiative, the World Local Production Forum: Enhancing access to medicines and other health technologies (WLPF). The WLPF is a sustainable global platform for Member States and the global community –industry, academia, civil societies, UN agencies, international organizations, and other stakeholders – to foster global coordination, partnerships, and synergies, galvanize collective action and shape the strategy and direction globally of local production and technology transfer. The WHO Local Production and Assistance Unit serves as the WLPF Secretariat.
The 1st WLPF was held in June 2021, uniting Ministers and high-level delegates from over 100 countries, industry leaders, heads of UN agencies and international organizations, academia, and other relevant stakeholders. Key global issues impacting local production and technology transfer to combat COVID-19 and beyond were discussed and key messages were raised to enable action by Member States and the global community in a collaborative and holistic manner.
One recommendation of the 1st WLPF in June 2021 is the formation of a WHO technical advisory group to provide strategic and technical advice to WHO in supporting Member States in local production and technology transfer of health products. The WHO TAG-LPTT was established and is composed of renowned experts with knowledge and expertise in a broad range of disciplines relevant to local production and technology transfer of health products. The WHO Local Production and Assistance Unit serves as the Secretariat of the TAG-LPTT.