Table of Contents

Research Handbook on Environment, Health and the WTO

Research Handbook on Environment, Health and the WTO

Research Handbooks on the WTO series

Edited by Geert Van Calster and Denise Prévost

This Handbook provides state-of-the-art analysis by leading authors on the links between the international trade regime and health and environment concerns – concerns that make up an increasing proportion of WTO dispute settlement. Research Handbook on Environment, Health and the WTO surveys fields as diverse as climate change mitigation, non-communicable diseases, nanotechnology and public health care. The volume brings to the fore the debates and complexities surrounding these issues and their implications for the international trading system.

Chapter 8: TRIPs and access to essential medicines

Bryan Mercurio

Subjects: environment, environmental law, law - academic, environmental law, health law, international economic law, trade law


The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that approximately one-third of the world’s population lacks access to essential medicines and adequate medical treatment, with Africa and India making up 53 per cent of those without sufficient access to essential medicines. It is also clear that millions of deaths occur each year from preventable and easily treatable diseases and that these deaths are caused in large part due to the difficulties some countries have in providing their citizens with access to essential medicines. Thus, despite the right to health being enshrined in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), a significant portion of the world cannot enjoy this right. Finding a cause for the lack of access to essential medicines and remedying the situation has proven to be more controversial and illusory.

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