Lancet Commission on Essential Medicines calls for low-cost access to health care | News | DW | 08.11.2016
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Lancet Commission on Essential Medicines calls for low-cost access to health care

The Lancet medical journal has reported that a $2 per capita investment could give people in low and middle-income countries access to a basket of essential medicines. One in five countries spends less than that.

The Lancet Commission on Essential Medicines examined "massive inequities and inefficiencies" in financing and governance between regions which hinders access to medication for many people.

The Lancet medical journal released its report Monday, saying 201 essential medications could be provided for just $1-2 (0.90-1.80 euros) per person per month in low- and middle-income countries.

"The affordability of essential medicines is a core challenge and is a challenge to…our ability to deliver universal health coverage," Commission co-chair and pharmacist Andy Gray said in a media briefing.

In the report the Lancet revealed that while global spending is about eight times this amount already, one in five countries spends less than $1 per month per person, while global spending on medication is expected to be $1.2 trillion in 2017.

Improving access

The report was compiled by 21 experts who said the lack of access to affordable medication was threatening progress towards universal health coverage, one of the global development goals adopted by world leaders at a UN summit in 2015.

The Commission also called for reforms in the way medication is developed and patented in order to improve affordability and access. "Every available regulatory and management intervention that could improve the affordability of medicines must be considered," the authors reported. 

Another major concern raised in Monday's report was the quality of medicine that went to less developed countries. Over 120,000 children in sub-Saharan Africa are estimated to have died due to low quality anti-malarial medication, according to the report.

kbd/jm (AFP, Reuters)

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