Second Meeting on Access to Medicines under Universal Health Coverage in the Asia Pacific Region. 17–18 September 2015, Seoul, Republic of Korea
(2015; 73 pages)

Abstract

Medicines and health technologies are central to achieving equitable access to quality health services and risk protection goals of universal health coverage (UHC). The financing, pricing and reimbursement of medicines and health technologies have been major challenges for many countries. Medicines are often not covered or inadequately covered in benefit packages and health financing schemes, resulting in high out-of-pocket payments. Hence, efficient medicines management policies are crucial for the financial sustainability of health systems.

To assist the Member States to improve the efficiency of their medicines and health technology management system, the establishment of the Asia Pacific Network on Access to Medicines under Universal Health Coverage (UHC) was proposed at the first Meeting on Access to Medicines under UHC in the Asia Pacific Region held in 2014. The Network is a joint initiative by WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Korea Policy Centre, and the WHO Collaborating Centre for Health Systems at Seoul National University. The first network meeting was held at the second Meeting on Access to Medicines under Universal Health Coverage in the Asia Pacific Region in Seoul, the Republic of Korea, from 17 to 18 September 2015.

The objectives of the meeting were:

1) to share information and results of studies initiated from the first meeting on Access to Medicines under Universal Health Coverage in the Asia Pacific Region to guide medicines and health technology policies and strategies to achieve Universal Health Coverage;

2) to identify good practices for decision-making that are appropriate to country contexts to develop financing schemes and comprehensive benefit packages for medicines and health technologies; and

3) to discuss the role and activities of the Asia Pacific Network on Access to Medicines and the options to participate and exchange information.

Participants shared information on global issues and regional initiatives on pharmaceutical policies for UHC and access to high-cost medicines (such as treatment for viral hepatitis) were highlighted. Australia and Mongolia shared experiences on sofosbuvir for hepatitis C. The results of brief country profiles on pharmaceutical system and policies were presented by all Member States. The Philippines and the Republic of Korea have completed the longer survey and they shared their results.

Participants in groups analysed issues and identified priority areas for collaboration. They acknowledged the importance of a regional network and confirmed interest and participation. The goals, objectives of the network, methods, membership, and secretariat roles were discussed and agreed. The network activities will enhance the capacity of policy-makers to identify good practices and to make decisions that are transparent, evidence-based and timely to develop national policies for medicines management as a key focus of sustainable UHC expansion.

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