Access to medicines
AbstractAccess to medicines is at the core of universal health coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals. Despite progress over the past decade in improving access to essential medicines in the Region, this has not been uniform. As health needs in the Region evolve, Member States face increasing challenges in ensuring equitable access to a growing range of quality essential medicines at affordable prices. Access to medicines has been a Flagship Priority for the WHO South-East Asia Region since 2014. An earlier version of the attached working paper was presented to the High-Level Preparatory (HLP) Meeting for its review and recommendations. It reviewed the current situation, progress and challenges; outlined some emerging messages and suggested a way forward. The HLP Meeting discussed these, and recommended that the paper should be revised after the Regional Consultation on access to medicines for universal health coverage (16–18 August 2017), so that recommendations from the consultation could be included for consideration by the Seventieth Session of the Regional Committee. The Regional Consultation recommended four areas for inter-country collaboration to advance the medicines agenda. These are: a) information sharing on medicines prices, building on existing platforms; b) information sharing on medicines quality, through the South-East Asia Regulators Network (SEARN); c) taking small but concrete steps in multicounty collaboration on procurement by starting with antidotes (which are lifesaving, and often hard to obtain rapidly); and d) supporting more systematic approaches to bilateral collaboration in procurement. Additional regional actions to strengthen regulatory systems for medical products through SEARN will focus on making greater use by Member States of reliance on each other’s regulatory decisions, to improve regulatory performance. The results of the HLP Meeting deliberations and recommendations from the Regional Consultation are presented below.Actions by Member States (1) Individual country actions, which include: a) Maintain national medicines policies and essential medicines lists as the backbone of action to improve access, supported by sufficient resources for implementation; b) Action to strengthen procurement, pricing and regulation of medical products, and make appropriate use of TRIPS flexibilities; c) Action to encourage more appropriate medicines use, especially of antimicrobials; d) Better monitoring of access to medicines. (2) Greater inter-country cooperation, beginning with four priorities: a) Information sharing on price, building on an existing platform. b) Information sharing on medicines quality, through SEARN. c) Initiate small but concrete collaboration in procurement, starting with antidotes. d) Bilateral cooperation agreements: development of more systematic approaches. Actions by WHO (1) Foster inter-country and regional cooperation in procurement, pricing and regulation of medical products, focused on the four agreed priorities, with short- and medium-term deliverables, (2) Technical support to build capacity as needed, (3) Support improved data on access to and use of medicines, with a focus on antimicrobials. This working paper and the recommendations from the HLP Meeting and the Regional Consultation on access to medicines for universal health coverage are submitted to the Seventieth Session of the WHO Regional Committee for South-East Asia for its consideration and decision.
World Health Organization. Regional Office for South-East Asia. (2017). Access to medicines. World Health Organization. Regional Office for South-East Asia. http://www.who.int/iris/handle/10665/258815