GENEVA, Oct. 2 (Xinhua) -- The World Trade Organization (WTO) provides a legal framework for members to cut tariffs on medicines in a non-discriminatory way, WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo said on Monday.
Azevedo said enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of all human beings.
He explained that a number of WTO members have agreed to eliminate such tariffs entirely, adding that "innovation is vital -- we remain in constant need of new treatments as diseases evolve."
"But," he added, "innovation without effective and equitable access to medicines is of little use to those in need of treatment. Without proper access to medicines, innovation is pointless."
The WTO head made the remarks while addressing the UN Human Rights Council Social Forum that takes place from Oct. 2 to 4 at the Palais des Nations, Geneva.
This year, the forum brings together UN agencies, international organizations and non-governmental organizations, with the theme of "Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in the Context of the HIV Epidemic and Other Communicable Diseases and Epidemics".
World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that universal health coverage enables all to obtain the health services they need, when and where they need them, without facing financial hardship.
"Universal health coverage doesn't just improve health. It reduces poverty, creates jobs, drives inclusive economic growth, promotes gender equality and protects people against epidemics, including HIV," said Tedros.
The achievement of universal health coverage means primary care that provides integrated services for the whole of a person's health needs, rather than fragmented services for individual diseases, according to the UN official.