(1998; 49 pages) [French] [Spanish]
The present model of development in many countries is focused on economic growth with less concern for issues of social equity and solidarity. This new trend raises fundamental questions for the health sector and, in particular, for the pharmaceutical sector:
• Is the present socio-economic model of development of many countries compatible with basic public health principles?
• Are market forces, privatization, and free enterprise the solution for all problems of the health sector?
• Who in the new socio-economic environment will guarantee equity of access to the health services?
In many countries, equity of access to health and drugs cannot be achieved without drastic redistribution of wealth through taxes or some other methods of income redistribution, identified by the state. In this context, the role of WHO today is to explore new models and ways of organizing health services which respond better to the objectives of equity and efficiency.
Drug financing reforms, efforts to promote affordability and efficiency, and organizational reforms in the drug sector are each critical elements in the overall health sector reform process. The essential drugs policy recommended and promoted by WHO is a precursor of health sector reform. National drug policies based on the concept of essential drugs address equity, efficacy, quality, and rational use. These objectives coincide with the objectives of the health sector reform which are being discussed today.