Thailand (on 28 January), Mali (on 20 January) and Lesotho (on 4 January) are the other three members that have accepted the amendment this year. The protocol will enter into force once two-thirds of the WTO membership has formally accepted it. South Africa's acceptance marks another step towards the threshold.
The protocol amending the TRIPS Agreement, which was adopted in 2005, is intended to make it easier for poorer WTO members to access affordable medicines. The protocol allows exporting countries to grant compulsory licenses (one that is granted without the patent holder’s consent) to their generic suppliers to manufacture and export medicines to countries that cannot manufacture the needed medicines themselves. These licenses were originally limited to predominantly supplying the domestic market.
The following WTO members have accepted the amendment: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Canada, Central African Republic, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, European Union, Grenada, Honduras, Hong Kong China, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, the Republic of Korea, Lao PDR, Lesotho, Macao China, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Myanmar, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Philippines, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Uganda, United States, Uruguay, and Zambia.
More information on the issue of TRIPS and public health is available here.