Area of Research
Jillian Clare Kohler's research focuses on global access to essential medicines. More specifically, she focuses her research on issues that are linked to anti-corruption, transparency and accountability in the pharmaceutical sector, as well as those related to trade issues and intellectual property rights.
In addition to her role as professor and cross-appointments at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, she is the Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Governance, Transparency and Accountability in the Pharmaceutical Sector.
Corruption as defined by Transparency International is “the misuse of entrusted power for private gain.” Corruption is complex, nuanced and multifaceted, and it undercuts equity because it typically benefits those who hold some degree of power at the expense of the public good. Corruption is found throughout the health system; from petty corruption at the health facility level to corruption that takes place at the highest level of the state. It can create barriers to access to medicines and to health services, particularly for the most vulnerable and marginalized populations.
Unless corruption in health and pharmaceutical systems is addressed, comprehensively and practically, there is very little chance for the achievement of, not only lofty global health goals, such as Sustainable Development Goal #3: Good Health and Well-Being (Sustainable Development Goals Knowledge Platform) but those expressed in national public health policies. Research is needed in order to identify the how, why and what of corruption in the health and pharmaceutical systems in an effort to stop exploitation of the poor and vulnerable from the powerful. And while research may not illuminate the full story of how corruption is taking place and detail the granularity of its impact, even exploratory research is absolutely fundamental to grasping what anti-corruption, transparency and accountability strategies and tactics can best reduce the risk of corruption in health and pharmaceutical systems.
Impact To Date
Kohler is a recognized global expert on anti-corruption, transparency and accountability in the pharmaceutical system. She has worked with the WHO, the UNDP and the Global Fund in their efforts to advance more research, policy and practice on anti-corruption in the health and pharmaceutical systems. She pioneered the methodology on good governance in the pharmaceutical system for the World Bank, which was subsequently adopted by the WHO and has been applied in over 38 countries globally. Kohler is a technical advisor for the Access to Medicines Index and was an advisor to the now-concluded WHO Good Governance for Medicines Programme.
Awards and Accomplishments
- Connaught Global Challenge Award 2020
- Canadian Women in Global Health 2018
- Inaugural founder and Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Governance, Transparency and Accountability in the Pharmaceutical Sector
- Technical advisor to the Access to Medicines Index and the former WHO Good Governance for Medicines Programme
- Peter and Patricia Gruber Fellowship in Global Justice at Yale University in 2013
Onwujekwe, O., Orjiakor, C., Ogbozor, P., Agu, I., Agwu, P., Wright, T., Balabanova, D., Kohler, J. Examining corruption risks in the procurement and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in select states in Nigeria. J of Pharm Policy and Pract 16, 141 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40545-023-00649-7
Kohler J, Wong A, Tailor L. Improving Access to COVID-19 Vaccines: An Analysis of TRIPS Waiver Discourse among WTO Members, Civil Society Organizations, and Pharmaceutical Industry Stakeholders. Health Hum Rights. 2022 Dec;24(2):159-175. PMID: 36579316; PMCID: PMC9790937.
Permaul Flores, H., Kohler, J.C., Dimancesco, D. et al. Medicine donations: a review of policies and practices. Global Health 19, 67 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12992-023-00964-3
Perehudoff K, Wirtz VJ, Wong A, Rusu V, Kohler JC. A global social contract to ensure access to essential medicines and health technologies. BMJ Global Health (2022). https://gh.bmj.com/content/7/11/e010057
Wong, A., Clarke, B., Kohler, J.C. TRIPS Flexibilities and Access to Medicines: An Evaluation of Barriers to Employing Compulsory Licenses for Patented Pharmaceuticals at the WTO. South Centre (2022). https://www.southcentre.int/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/RP168_TRIPS-Flexibilities-and-Access-to-Medicines_EN.pdf
Gorodensky, A., Kohler, J.C. State capture through indemnification demands? Effects on equity in the global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. J of Pharm Policy and Pract 15, 50 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40545-022-00442-y
Andrea Bowra, Gul Saeed, Ariel Gorodensky, Jillian Clare Kohler. An exploration of anti-corruption and health in international organizations. PLOS ONE. August 2022. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0269203
Saeed, G., Kohler, J. C., Cuomo, R. E., & Mackey, T. K. A systematic review of digital technology and innovation and its potential to address anti-corruption, transparency, and accountability in the pharmaceutical supply chain. Expert Opinion on Drug Safety (2022). https://doi.org/10.1080/14740338.2022.2091543
Wong, A.S.Y., Cole, C.B. & Kohler, J.C. Intellectual property and access to medicines: mapping public attitudes toward pharmaceuticals during the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) negotiation process. Global Health 17, 92 (2021).
Kohler, J.C. 2021a. Why Global Cooperation in Public Health Needs a Leader. Healthcare Papers 19(4): 9–18. doi:10.12927/hcpap.2021.26487.
Kohler, J.C. 2021b. Deployment of COVID-19 Vaccines: Are We All In This Together? Healthcare Papers 19(4): 48–52. doi:10.12927/hcpap.2021.26481.
- Natalie Rhodes, Tom Wright, Violet Rusu Hela Bakhtari, Jonathan Cushing, Jillian Kohler. For Whose Benefit? Transparency in the development and procurement of COVID-19 vaccines. Transparency International. May 2021. https://ti-health.org/content/for-whose-benefit-transparency-in-the-development-and-procurement-of-covid-19-vaccines/
- Jillian Clare Kohler. The Urgency of Mutual Collective Accountability in Global Health Governance. Global Health Governance (Special Symposium Issue 2021: Global Health Justice and Governance). Volume XVI, No. 1. https://blogs.shu.edu/ghg/files/2021/05/Spring-2021-Issue.pdf#page=39
- Lisa Forman & Jillian Clare Kohler (2020). Global health and human rights in the time of COVID-19: Response, restrictions, and legitimacy, Journal of Human Rights, 19:5, 547-556. https://doi.org/10.1080/14754835.2020.1818556
- Jillian Clare Kohler, Andrea Bowra. Exploring anti-corruption, transparency, and accountability in the World Health Organization, the United Nations Development Programme, the World Bank Group, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Globalization and Health (2020) 16:101. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12992-020-00629-5
- Wong, A.S., Kohler, J.C. Social capital and public health: responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Global Health 16, 88 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12992-020-00615-x
- Jillian Clare Kohler and Wright, T. The Urgent Need for Transparent and Accountable Procurement of Medicine and Medical Supplies in Times of the COVID-19 Pandemic. J of Pharm Policy and Pract 13, 58 (2020). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7485191/
- Hafner, T., Banda, M., Kohler, J. et al. Integrating pharmaceutical systems strengthening in the current global health scenario: three ‘uncomfortable truths’. J of Pharm Policy and Pract 13, 38 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40545-020-00242-2
- Kohler, J.C., Mackey, T.K. Why the COVID-19 pandemic should be a call for action to advance equitable access to medicines. BMC Med 18, 193 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-020-01661-3
- Jillian Clare Kohler & Deirdre Dimancesco (2020) The risk of corruption in public pharmaceutical procurement: how anti-corruption, transparency and accountability measures may reduce this risk, Global Health Action, 13:sup1, DOI: 10.1080/16549716.2019.1694745
McLean M, Kohler JC, Edwards D. Assessing national governance of medicine promotion: an exploratory study in Ghana to trial a structured set of indicators. J Pharm Policy Pract. 2019;12:26. Published 2019 Sep 4 doi:10.1186/s40545-019-0187-9
- Jillian Clare Kohler. “I Know It When I See It: The Challenges of Addressing Corruption in Health Systems; Comment on “We Need to Talk About Corruption in Health Systems””. International Journal of Health Policy and Management. (2019), 8(9), 563–566 http://www.ijhpm.com/article_3643_b990f405cca89ba767be6d067a03b7d2.pdf
- Jillian Clare Kohler, Tomas Chang Pico, Taryn Vian, Tim K. Mackey. “The Global Wicked Problem of Corruption and Its Risks for Access to HIV/AIDS Medicines”. Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics 104(6) August 2018. https://ascpt.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/cpt.1172
- Anne Paschke, Deirdre Dimancesco, Taryn Vian, Jillian C Kohler & Gilles Forte. “Increasing transparency and accountability in national pharmaceutical systems”. Bulletin of the World Health Organization. 2018;96(11):782-791 http://dx.doi.org/10.2471/BLT.17.206516https://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/96/11/en/
- Tim K Mackey, Taryn Vian & Jillian Kohler. “The sustainable development goals as a framework to combat health-sector corruption”. Bulletin of the World Health Organization 2018;96:634–643. http://dx.doi.org/10.2471/BLT.18.209502
- Mackey TK, Kohler JC, Lewis M, Vian T. “Combating corruption in global health”. Science Translational Medicine. Aug 9, 2017 http://stm.sciencemag.org/content/9/402/eaaf9547
- Thorsteinsdóttir H, Ovtcharenko N, Kohler JC. “Corporate social responsibility to improve access to medicines: the case of Brazil”. Globalization and Health 2017 13:10; DOI: 10.1186/s12992-017-0235-7 https://globalizationandhealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12992-017-0235-7
- Kohler JC, Mackey TK, Ovtcharenko N. “Why the MDGs need good governance in pharmaceutical systems to promote global health”. Kohler et al. BMC Public Health. 2014, 14:63 http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1471-2458-14-63.pdf
- Jillian Kohler. Opinion: Developing countries won’t forget Canada’s ‘me-first’ approach to vaccines. The Globe and Mail.
February 8, 2021. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-developing-countries-wont-forget-canadas-me-first-approach-to-vaccines/
- Jillian Kohler and Jonathan Cushing. Opinion: The credibility of pharmaceutical companies is on the line. Will they get it right? The Globe and Mail. November 24, 2020. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-the-credibility-of-pharmaceutical-companies-is-on-the-line-will-they/
Keywords: governance, transparency, accountability, intellectual property rights, pharmaceutical policy, corruption, health systems, national pharmaceutical systems