Intended for healthcare professionals


Reasons for inadequate health care vary

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: (Published 04 November 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:1159
  1. Trevor M Jones, director general
  1. Asociation of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, London SW1A 2DY

    EDITOR—The pharmaceutical industry has not “abandoned the battlefield” in the fight against tropical disease, as discussed by Schull.1 Pharmaceutical companies are still researching and developing new drugs for several diseases and have actively participated in partnership projects in recent years. These projects aim at implementing treatment access programmes in HIV/AIDS and other diseases prevalent in tropical countries, such as lymphatic filariasis, leprosy, trachoma, tuberculosis, and malaria. The recently established medicines for malaria venture is a particularly good example.

    The reasons for inadequate availability of health care vary from country to country and include political, financial, and physical barriers, especially the lack of an adequate infrastructure to deliver the benefits of drugs. The barriers are such that they can be addressed only through concerted action by national governments, bilateral donors, and multilateral agencies, together with the private sector and non-governmental organisations.

    In some countries affordability of good healthcare treatments could be improved by giving a higher priority to health in political agendas and budget decisions. In many others affordability is not possible without considerable support from aid organisations and donor countries. The pharmaceutical industry has shown that it is more than willing to take ability to pay into account in partnership programmes with the governments of developing countries and other organisations that seek to improve health care.

    The pharmaceutical industry also participates in helping developing countries overcome the physical barriers to access by addressing the problems of pharmaceutical management (facilitating and improving effective distribution systems to get medicines from warehouses to health outposts), manufacture, quality control, storage, education, and the overall provision of health care, from diagnosis to treatment.

    There is clearly a need for enhanced efforts by all parties to create sustainable solutions, and the pharmaceutical industry is ready to play its part.


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