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UKZN Law Academics Contribute to DIT Intellectual Property Consultative Framework

November 02, 2016


A group of School of Law academics is part of a team of experts, scholars and pro-access to medicines advocates who have contributed to the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DIT) Intellectual Property Consultative Framework.

The framework attempts to reform the Department’s intellectual property, mainly patent laws, in an effort to improve access to affordable medicines.

The academics are: author Professor Yousuf Vawda and co-submitters, Professor David McQuoid-Mason, Ms Priya Pravesh Singh, Ms Sheetal Soni, Ms Devina Perumal, Ms Lindiwe Maqutu, Ms Dev Bellengere, Mr Maropeng Mpya, Ms Suhayfa Bhamjee, Mr Simphiwe Phungula, Ms Willene Holness, Mr Zwelethu Sibiya and Mrs Clydenia Stevens.

Mr Andy Gray of UKZN’s School of Health Sciences, and Mr Lloyd Lotz formerly of the School of Law, are co-submitters.

‘The extensive involvement of our colleagues in this process is hardly surprising as many of them have been involved during the past three years in training and preparing for a new curriculum on Intellectual Property Human Rights and Access to Medicines which is a Masters of Laws module now being offered in its second year,’ said Vawda.

‘This is one of the Law School’s programmes which aims to combine academic teaching, research, advocacy work and outreach to communities and NGOs advocating for access to affordable medicines. As a result, the pool of academics which is involved in working in this Discipline has increased.

‘Our co-authors and supporters are drawn from an international network of scholars and experts. Many of the authors have also been involved in developing capacity in this discipline in several African countries such as Kenya, Uganda and Botswana, through the Open Society Foundation-supported African Scholars for Knowledge Justice (ASK Justice) Network. We have also previously collaborated on several projects, including making a submission to the Department of Trade and Industry on its earlier 2013 Draft IP Policy,’ he said.

‘It was an incredibly rewarding experience working with colleagues who are all specialists in their fields. We all contributed to this effort and learned from one another, and worked collaboratively on the document for about two months,’ said Vawda.

‘In addition, we circulated our draft submission widely prior to delivery to the DTI and received a phenomenal response from academics, experts, scholars, activists and access advocates across the world. The list of co-submitters includes researchers from some of the leading institutions in the world as well as national and international NGOs.’

We were also pleased to secure the endorsement of the South African-based Fix the Patent Laws Coalition, representing 31 organisations including the Treatment Action Campaign, Doctors Without Borders, the public interest law group Section27, and many of the leading patient groups working with people afflicted with cancer, diabetes, epilepsy and various mental health conditions.

The Department of Trade and Industry is presently reviewing all the proposals received on the Framework. The submission can be viewed at http://infojustice.org/archives/36991. Comments or queries should be directed to Professor Yousuf A Vawda at vawday@ukzn.ac.za.

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