Beyond COVID-19: WHO Unveils Health Technology Access Pool (HTAP) for Global Health Equity

Image Credit, Ernesto Eslava

In a pivotal step towards achieving universal health coverage and bolstering global health security, the World Health Organization (WHO) today announced the launch of the Health Technology Access Pool (HTAP). This innovative initiative succeeds the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) and expands its scope to encompass a broader range of health priorities beyond the pandemic.

C-TAP, established in May 2020, played a crucial role in facilitating equitable access to COVID-19 diagnostics, vaccines, and other tools. It provided a platform for technology partners to voluntarily share intellectual property, knowledge, and data, accelerating innovation and expanding access to life-saving tools during a critical period. Despite challenges inherent in establishing such a novel mechanism amidst the pandemic, C-TAP secured six non-exclusive global licenses for 15 technologies, including the first from a private manufacturer.

Building upon C-TAP’s success, HTAP represents a significant evolution. It incorporates key learnings and incorporates structural, process, and strategic improvements to attract and support a wider range of priority technologies more effectively.

“Equitable access to essential health products is the cornerstone of both universal health coverage and global health security,” emphasized Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. “HTAP leverages the valuable lessons from C-TAP and takes a critical step towards ensuring equitable access to a broader spectrum of health products through the sharing of knowledge, innovation, and intellectual property.”

HTAP’s focus extends beyond pandemic preparedness, encompassing health priorities relevant both during and outside health emergencies. This strategic shift enhances the public health impact of HTAP investments while increasing the attractiveness of licensed technologies for recipient manufacturers by opening wider market opportunities and fostering financial sustainability. The recent licensing of a rapid diagnostic test platform technology exemplifies this approach.

Further details on HTAP’s operational modalities and targeted technologies will be published by WHO later in the first quarter of 2024. The official launch is scheduled for the second quarter, marking a significant milestone in the global pursuit of equitable access to health technologies. In the interim, WHO will apply HTAP’s principles and approach to secure critical health technologies and expand regional and global production capacity.

HTAP represents a significant step forward in the fight for equitable access to essential health products worldwide. By fostering collaboration, knowledge sharing, and innovation, this initiative has the potential to transform global health for the better, ensuring that no one is left behind in the pursuit of health and well-being.