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July 27, 2022

The Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC) welcomes the decision this week by the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) Steering Committee to make permanent its pilot Research and Development (R&D) Task Force. This important decision gives the task force—which was launched in June 2021 as a one-year pilot effort focused on improving R&D readiness—a mandate to continue its work through the current GHSA strategic framework, which runs through 2024.

In response to the decision, GHTC Executive Director Jamie Bay Nishi said, “GHTC and our members applaud the GHSA Steering Committee for making permanent the R&D Task Force—an action that not only enables it to continue its vital work, but also cements R&D capacity strengthening as a central part of GHSA’s broader mission to prevent, detect, and respond to health threats.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made clear the importance of investing in R&D of medical countermeasures to combat health threats. But it has also exposed systemic gaps in the R&D capabilities of many nations—including limited surveillance, clinical research, manufacturing, and regulatory capacity—which have contributed to gross inequalities in access to health technologies between rich and poor nations. As a country-led collaborative effort, the GHSA R&D Task Force is uniquely positioned to play a leadership role in closing these gaps—and in just one year has already achieved important first steps toward that aim.”

“Later this year, the task force will unveil a new tool designed to support countries in self-assessing their R&D capabilities, which aligns with and complements the International Health Regulations (IHR) and Joint External Evaluation (JEE) process. GHTC believes that at a local level, this tool can help GHSA nations identify country-specific R&D capacity gaps to address through their national preparedness plans, and at a global level, this evidence can inform the adoption of new indicators within the IHR or JEE to better address R&D readiness, as well as strategically guide the disbursement of funding from international mechanisms like the new World Bank prevention, preparedness, and response fund.”

“Closing R&D capacity gaps is not a problem that will be solved overnight, but it is vital to bolstering the world’s pandemic defenses. We thank the GHSA Steering Committee for their vote of confidence to continue the task force’s work and their continued leadership and commitment to advancing a world better equipped with the R&D capabilities to prevent the next pandemic.”

For more information on the GHSA R&D Task Force’s accomplishments and future vision, view its one-year progress report.