I had the pleasure of attending the Patients and Patents reception and workshop in Geneva on the eve of the 61st World Health Assembly where we received an update on the progress made by the IGWG on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property.
One of the speakers was an Anglican priest from Nigeria, Father Ojeh. Quoting Jesus, Father Ojeh said,”What I do, ye can do also”. Anyone one of us, if we put our minds to it, could discover the next life-saving drug. Yet, realistically, to do so we would require education, materials, assistance and the incentives to devote our lives to such a noble cause. Father Ojeh went on to say that the real barriers to drug access in Nigeria was not patents, but politics and poverty.
Every life-saving drug we enjoy today was discovered in a system that provided incentives, the chief amongst which, is intellectual property protection. No one will spend a life time dedicated to something only to have it stolen from them for ill-gotten profits the minute they achieve their life’s goal. All this talk at IGWG by silk-stockinged socialists about compulsory licensing is nothing but self-serving bunk.
Thank-you Father Ojeh for your words of wisdom and for putting patients first in your congregation in Nigeria. The WHA could learn from priests who serve the people of developing countries by putting patients first and not self-serving politicians, bureaucrats and NGO’s.