WHO Regional Director for Africa calls for greater commitment to improve access to medicines in the Region

Report
from World Health Organization
Published on 02 Jul 2015 View Original

Brazzaville, 2 July 2015 - As members of an EU/WHO/ACP partnership* to improve access to quality medicines meet in Brazzaville, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, praised progress made and called for greater commitment to ensure that Africans have access to the quality, affordable medicines they need.

“In order to achieve Universal Health Coverage with essential services, it is crucial to have universal access to medicines that are of good quality, as part of well-functioning national health systems. I believe that our Member States are now committed to strengthening their pharmaceutical sectors with effective policies and plans,” said Dr Moeti.

The Regional Director stressed the critical importance of the pharmaceutical sector for sustainable development and for building effective health systems. She called upon the EU ‘’to consider continuing the partnership with WHO in order to sustain the progress made in beneficiary countries, but also to consider expanding the partnership to additional countries that also need help to work towards Universal Health Coverage.’’

High on the agenda of the meeting are strengthening pharmaceutical systems and improving access to quality medicines as well as improving countries capacities on a range of areas including pricing policies and reimbursement by health insurance systems to reduce financial hardships; selection of essential medicines and national procurement systems.

With funding from the EU and technical support from WHO, the partnership aims to improve the pharmaceutical systems of 15 African countries** by:

Strengthening policies for the selection, dispensing and use of essential medicines
Increasing the availability of medicines and reducing medicines prices
Promoting quality and safety of medicines
Promoting good governance in the pharmaceutical sector
“There is an urgent need for countries to establish functional health systems through adequate financing, a policy of training and human resource retention, and access to quality and affordable medicines,’’ said the EU Ambassador of the European Union Delegation in Congo, Mrs Saskia De Lang.

Some of the barriers to accessing medicines in countries of the African region include poor quality pharmaceuticals (which are harmful and foster drug resistance), resource constraints, weak pharmaceutical policies, poorly managed supply chains, pricing and limited access to social protection schemes.

“Access to treatment is a critical element in fulfilling the human right to health and governments have a duty to deliver quality affordable essential medicines to their populations,” said Kees De Joncheere, WHO Director for Essential Medicines and Health Products. “Securing quality-assured, affordable essential medicines for all is a crucial step in the direction of universal health coverage and critical for addressing HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria as well as NCDs and other priority conditions.”

“As the international community positions health as a pillar of the sustainable development goals (SDGs),” said Mr John F Kakule, from the ACP, “access to affordable, quality essential medicines will continue to be a prerequisite for the aspiration of Universal Health Coverage. It is therefore imperative, regardless of income, for countries to design health systems that aim at improving access to services particularly for the vulnerable communities.”

The ACP-EU-WHO Renewed Partnership was established in 2012 and is funded until 2016. After three years of existence, it is supporting progress towards targets of the health-related Millennium Development Goals (i.e. MDGs 4, 5, 6 and 8), and to help realize Universal Health Coverage in the partner countries.

*The European Union/African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States/World Health Organization Renewed Partnership.

** Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Senegal, Tanzania, Togo, Zambia, and Zimbabwe

For additional information please contact:

Technical Contacts:

Dr Ossy Kasilo - Tel: + 47 241 39268 - Email: kasiloo@who.int
Dr Desta T. Abayneh - Tel: + 47 241 39262 - Email: destaa@who.int
Jean-Baptiste Nikiema - Tel + 47 241 39258 - Email: nikiemaj@who.int

Communications Contacts:

Collins Boakye-Agyemang - Tel: + 47 241 39420 - Email: boakyeagyemangc@who.int
Daniela Bagozzi - Tel. +41 22 791 19 90 - E-mail: bagozzid@who.int
Flavienne Issembe: Tel: + 47 241 39352 - Email: issembef@who.int
Cory Couillard - Tel:+ 47 241 39995 - Email: couillardc@who.int