26 February 2015 | Press releases

Global health partners begin building a new approach to ensure equitable access to medicines

Global health partners met in Geneva to begin the process of building a new approach to better determine health needs and constraints and addressing them in countries.

The new framework, the Equitable Access Initiative, aims to better inform international decision making processes on health and development, particularly where they rely on traditional gross-national-income classification as a measure of where to invest global health resources.

Relying solely on gross national income to determine investment priorities in global health has been increasingly questioned by partners.

Economic growth is lifting many countries from low- to middle-income status, yet those classifications and criteria may be too simple to capture overall needs and capacities.

Countries classified as middle-income are often in need of substantial resources to respond to disease burden, as a steadily larger percentage of those affected by the diseases live in middle-income countries.

Participants in the meeting discussed how the absence of new strategies to ease the transition of countries from low-income to middle-income status has led to a substantial risk of countries not being able to maintain or improve health outcomes. The initial meeting of the Equitable Access initiative was held on 23 February 2015 and co-chaired by Pascal Lamy, the Honorary President of Notre Europe, and Donald Kaberuka, the President of African Development Bank Group. The meeting, hosted by the WHO, was co-convened by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; The Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB, Malaria; UNAIDS; UNICEF; UNDP; UNFPA; UNITAID; WHO and the World Bank.

The meeting looked at a process of engagement that may culminate in recommendations on how to support countries as they make vital health investments as they transition from low-income to middle-income status.

The Equitable Access Initiative seeks to establish a new way to measure a country’s health needs and capacities, aimed towards sustainability, and in addition to propose nuanced health classifications that go beyond traditional economic metrics such as national income levels and are more relevant for better health outcomes. The initiative will be firmly grounded in human rights and will uphold the need for zero discrimination in access to medicines.

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