(2017; 36 pages)
By 2030, the international community should have progressed to more sustainable policies and practices to safeguard the environment, end poverty and promote health throughout the life course. The new global agenda, articulated in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), prioritizes equity and human rights-based approaches with an emphasis, in health, on universal coverage. This gives WHO, and the essential medicines and health products programme in particular, an opportunity to build on progress made so far and help to bring about access to quality essential medicines and health products for all.
The path to that goal is not without challenges. Rising prices of new pharmaceuticals, rapidly changing markets for health technologies, and lack of market incentives for older medicines are placing increasing pressure on health systems’ capacity to provide full and affordable access to health care. In addition, the growing regulatory burden and lack of regulatory capacity in many Member States, and the rise in substandard and falsified products on all markets, are hampering efforts to ensure health products’ quality, efficacy and safety. At the same time, innovation in medical research and development (R&D) has resulted in new products that, with increased access, can bring lasting improvements to public health. It is therefore all the more important now to strengthen health systems and capacities in under-resourced and fragile countries, and to find sustainable solutions through multi-sector partnerships.
WHO will pursue its vision and mission by focusing on two interlinked and mutually reinforcing strategic agendas to better support the development of health systems capable of expanding access to medicines and health products: (i) supporting needs-based innovation and reinforcing health product selection, use, procurement and supply systems to increase access, and (ii) strengthening regulatory capacity and practices to ensure the quality, safety and efficacy of products and improve the efficiency of regulatory systems to secure health gains. To better mobilize resources and to maximize results, the WHO essential medicines and health products programme (referred to below as the Programme) will sharpen its focus on a number of thematic areas that reflect current global challenges to access. These include, among others, antimicrobial resistance, controlled substances, research and development preparedness for epidemics and best regulatory practices, including appropriate regulatory pathways for emerging health products.
Under ‘Towards Access 2030’, the Programme will strengthen links with other health systems-related initiatives for synergy and policy coherence, leverage the experience and knowledge of WHO Regional and Country Offices to better align policies with implementation, and reinforce partnerships work to improve coordination for better outcomes. The Programme will report on its effectiveness using a results framework based on improved information systems and four broad measures: regional outcomes, by which regions’ performance can be assessed through SDGs and other context-specific indicators; contribution to country outcomes; operational effectiveness, which applies indicators used by WHO; and organizational effectiveness, to track performance in key areas.