HIV Intellectual Property Amplified (HIPA): Challenging intellectual property barriers that prevent access to treatment for PLHIV in Zimbabwe

HIV Intellectual Property Amplified (HIPA): Challenging intellectual property barriers that prevent access to treatment for PLHIV in Zimbabwe


In 1994 all members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) including Zimbabwe adopted the Trade Related Aspects on Intellectual Property Rights known as the TRIPS Agreement. The TRIPS Agreement obliged all WTO members, including developing countries, to grant patents on, among other fields of technology, pharmaceutical products. This was subsequently followed by the Doha Declaration in 2001. The Doha Declaration acknowledged the rights of countries to protect public health in the light of the HIV and AIDS pandemic, as a ‘national emergency’. In the area of health, these flexibilities have come to be commonly known as “public health TRIPS Flexibilities”. There was a particular emphasis on the need to promote wider availability of lower cost generic medicines to ensure sustained availability and access to treatment. The Doha Declaration confirmed that public health considerations can and should condition the extent to which patents on pharmaceuticals are enforced and that flexibilities in the TRIPS Agreement should be used to improve access to medicines for all. The key barriers that Zimbabwe face include knowledge gaps (at policy, implementation and user level) on how to implement different provisions of the TRIPS flexibilities, challenges related to using compulsory licenses and insufficient manufacturing capacity in the pharmaceutical sector (due to a mix of exorbitant cost of production and high royalties and duties on the active ingredients). However, the key barrier is the capacity of PLHIV to understand and support advocacy around the IP barriers to access to treatment. ZNNP+ seeks to roll out a project on raising awareness on intellectual property barriers on access to treatment to people living with HIV (HIPA Project). The project will be conducted for 3 years throughout the country targeting policy makers (parliamentary and sub-committee members), implementers (government ministries and departments) and pharmaceutical companies.

Project details

Time frame
01 January 2018 - 01 July 2021
€ 180,000
Active in


* Improved access to patented HIV (raltegravir, ritonavir, etravirine and dolutegravir), TB and STI medicines at local, national and regional level due to a change in IP policy or implementation of IP policy.
* Policies reflecting the perspectives of people living with HIV, through IP policy adaptation and the introduction of new regulations.
* Expanded networks, stakeholders are connected for collaborative TRIPS advocacy.

Community groups

Zimbabwe has about 1,4 million PLHIV. Of these 1.4 million only 1 million people living with HIV are on ART. ZNNP+ envisages that this population will benefit directly from the programme


Zimbabwe's main barrier is the limited capacity of PLHIV to understand and support advocacy around the IP barriers to access to treatment. Other barriers that Zimbabwe faces include knowledge gaps at policy, implementation and user level on how to implement different provisions of the TRIPS flexibilities. Compulsory licensing and addressing the insufficient manufacturing capacity is essential, since limited availability of medicine can be explained by a mix of high production costs and high royalties medicine ingredients.

Zimbabwe has a successful HIV treatment programme. Despite this, intellectual property rights hinder access to HIV treatment and diagnostic services. The key challenges related to intellectual property rights are:
* Limited evidence-based research on the impact of intellectual property rights on access to treatment – including the costs of not utilizing TRIPS flexibilities.
* A lack of consumer centred research.
* Civil society and people living with HIV have a low level of awareness and knowledge on IP. There is a need to develop expertise related to IP laws which could assist civil society and PLHIV to advocate for the utilization of TRIPS flexibilities.
* Low levels of awareness and knowledge on the declarations and how TRIPS flexibilities should the operationalized by policy makers, pharmaceutical companies and procurement agencies.
* Visibility of IP experts and institutions.
* Lack of a vibrant consumer advocacy forum that is spearheaded by the consumers themselves (PLHIV).
* The legal representatives are currently operating in silos. IP lawyers tend to have little involvement with human rights law and few human rights specialists deal with science and technology and IP issues


Everyone living with HIV worldwide receives treatment
Contributed within this project


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