U.N., Countries Must Address All Barriers To Improve Access To Medicines
Devex: U.N. needs to look beyond patents for improving access to medicines
David J. Olson, technical adviser for the Palladium Group
“…[L]eaks from [U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines’] highly secretive proceedings suggest that the secretary general told the panel to focus on intellectual property and patents to the exclusion of other issues that hamper access to medicine — weak health systems, questionable government policies, a lack of health workers, and a lack of resources. … Far from being barriers to access to medicines, patents and intellectual property have improved access … One of the biggest barriers to access to medicines is lack of resources, particularly developing countries’ own funding of the health of its citizens (which is where most of the funding should be coming from). In 2001, African leaders … pledged to allocate 15 percent of their national budgets to health. … Twenty countries did not reach even the 10 percent level. Until that changes, and the U.N. looks beyond patents for real solutions, access to medicines will continue to be a problem” (8/4).