GENEVA, Switzerland, April 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Developing countries need more than just access to medicines, and should not be fooled into thinking there is a quick fix for their health needs, the AIDS Institute, Alliance for Health, Education, and Development (AHEAD), patient groups and other experts from around the world said Tuesday.

This warning came as the second session of the Intergovernmental Working Group (IGWG) on Public Health, Innovation, and Intellectual Property met in Geneva ahead of an important policy-setting meeting of the World Health Assembly next month.

Representatives from patient groups and civil society from India, Argentina, the Slovak Republic, Uganda, Ghana, São Tomé and Príncipe, Canada and the United States met in Geneva to underline real-world problems currently being ignored in the IGWG discussions as the result of the exclusion of patient groups and others with important experience and insights on the link between access to medicines and research and development.

"As stakeholders, we share the WHO commitment to ensuring patients in developing countries have access to the best healthcare, including affordable medicines. But the IGWG plan of action will not do this," said Durhane Wong-Rieger, founder and Chair of the Consumer Advocare Network. "The proposed solutions do not benefit patients in the poorest countries but serve the political and business agendas of other stakeholders, including manufacturers and governments of 'less poor' countries," she said.

The groups decided to gather in Geneva to share their common concerns with the recommendations and process. "Public health is everyone's responsibility, so we believe we have a duty to share our experience and analysis," said James Sykes, Global Program Coordinator for The AIDS Institute.

The IGWG was established by member countries of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2006 to tackle the problems with the current access to medicines and R&D environments. This is the first high level international body to consider both R&D and access to medicines issues at the same time. The working group will present its proposal at the 61st World Health Assembly in Geneva in May.

"The long-term solution to developing country health care requires a multi-faceted approach that tackles poverty, lack of infrastructure, lack of health care workers and access to basic necessities such as clean water and food," said Regina Kamoga, Country Manager, Uganda, Community Health and Information Network (CHAIN Uganda). "Partial solutions risk almost certain failure," she said.

Unlike IGWG itself, "we have made sure to be as inclusive as we can by inviting groups from around the world who have real-world experience of the situations facing patients," said Bishop Council Nedd for AHEAD.

This event was supported by PhRMA, which shares the stakeholders' views on the need for a comprehensive approach to providing health care and innovative medicines worldwide.

The AIDS Institute is a public policy research, advocacy, and education organization addressing HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and hepatitis as well as healthcare systems issues such as consumer access and patient safety.

The Community Health and Information Network is an international not for profit organization registered as a charity and company in the UK and Uganda. Set up in 1998, CHAIN promotes the empowerment of people living with HIV and AIDS. CHAIN's work is mostly undertaken in Africa, where it has Offices in Kigali, Rwanda and in Kampala, Uganda.

The Alliance for Health, Education, and Development (AHEAD) was established with the primary goal of educating members of underserved communities about their full range of choices and options in the areas of health, education, and economic development. To accomplish this goal, AHEAD employs a full range of implementation strategies including: the organization of educational outreach programs; the presentation of special events and seminars on the regional and national levels; the publication of materials; and the establishment of scholarship and recruitment programs.

For further information, please contact: Brandon Mitchener, APCO Worldwide, or +32-477-245-077