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UN High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines

4 March 2016

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To 'ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages' is the third of the United Nations' 17 sustainable development goals. The UN Secretary-General, however, has highlighted the misalignment between the rights of inventors, human rights law, trade rules and public health objectives as a major obstacle to improving access to medicines and health technologies around the world.

A UNSG High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines has therefore set out to address this incoherence. As a first step, it has called for contributions from those working on health technologies, innovation and access, human rights, law, scientific endeavours and industry to share their ideas and experience.

IKD members have responded with a submission arguing for increased policy coherence between access to medicines and public health on the one hand, and the requirements of industrial development, innovation and trade in African pharmaceuticals on the other.

The evidence that local producers can meet the needs of rural populations significantly better in terms of speed, flexibility and reach than importers of essential medicines has long been recognised by domestic governments, who are increasingly being joined by international aid agencies. A number of global and local policy initiatives in the areas of health, trade, intellectual property rights and industrial development, however, have made it more difficult for African producers to access local markets and upgrade their technology.

The IKD submission thus concludes by proposing that policies affecting access to medicines and medical devices in low- and middle-income countries should be redesigned to give a stronger emphasis to their industrial impact. And that such policies should be explicitly considered a vital element of support for health and human rights.

Read IKD’s submission to the UN’s High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines.

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