Now is the time to address the gap in global health equality

WThe world has been worried about COVID-19, deaths from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) that continue to affect poor countries at an alarming rate. Each year around the world, more than 15 million people die from NCDs between the ages of 30 and 69, and 85% of these premature death occurs in low- and middle-income countries. In fact, many people die from cancer in Africa than malaria. However, many of the latest cancer treatments have yet to reach lower-income countries. While treatments for all of these conditions exist, the barriers that keep them from reaching patients are persistent and complex.

In the last two years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve learned that when you let go of ‘business as usual’ and rethink the standard, we’ll achieve breakthroughs. . We developed the vaccine in just 9 months and treated it for 18 months, which used to take years, then we manufacture and ship more than three billion of those vaccines to nearly 180 countries and territories. in just one year.

Now we need another breakthrough: ending the health inequalities that exist between rich and poor nations. We can’t stand this distance anymore. Everyone, regardless of income or geography, has the same right to receive high-quality, safe and effective medicines and vaccines. So now it’s time for us to ask ourselves, how can we apply what we’ve learned in the fight against COVID-19 to all diseases and redefine the standard for Access to quality health?

The need is obvious, but the way we do this is more complicated.

Recent estimates suggest it could take at least another four to seven years for new drugs to be approved for use in Sub-Saharan Africa than in the US or Europe, and many others are never offered, significantly limiting patients’ access to desperately needed treatments. Shopping channels can be tedious and cumbersome, especially for smaller countries. Initiatives such as the Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP) and the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) have helped during the COVID-19 pandemic, enabling integrated procurement, increasing Cost effectiveness and transparency for emergency medicines and supplies. There is still much work to be done.

Today, Pfizer is launching the ‘Agreement for a Healthier World’ as an important first step to applying what we’ve learned and bringing in new resources to address the equality gap in health. health. The Agreement is the first comprehensive initiative that will focus on increasing access for 1.2 billion people living in 45 lower-income countries – all 27 low-income countries and 18 The country has transitioned from low-income to lower-normal income classification in the past 10 years. We have committed to making high-quality, patented drugs and vaccines available in the United States or the European Union — both current and future products — on a nonprofit basis to the government. governments of these countries.

Hundreds of millions of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are provided free of charge, but the vaccination rate for adults in Africa is about 15%. The pandemic has made it clear that supply is only one factor to help patients, under the Agreement we will work with governments and global health partners to define regulatory pathways and systems. A fast and efficient procurement system that accelerates outreach, identifies unmet health system needs, and mobilizes the resources needed to succeed. This includes technical expertise to support management processes, innovative supply chain solutions, higher diagnostic capabilities, innovative financing solutions and more to help governments achieve long-term success.

No one company or government can tackle generations of health inequalities alone. Pfizer and many others have worked for a long time to try to address the barriers that limit health equity. While significant progress has been made, we must challenge the standards. We needed an enhanced framework for global partnerships, innovative thinking and scalable solutions to tackle this seemingly impossible task. We aim for the Agreement to be the catalyst that brings together multidisciplinary partners for effective adoption of solutions across the entire healthcare ecosystem.

We are inviting all those who share our commitment and who are willing to work in brave and bold new ways to fulfill their own commitment to equality and to work collectively to eradicate the barriers to better health that change the lives of people around the globe.

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