In 2019, MSF marked the 20th anniversary of the Access Campaign, which has been working to secure access to affordable medicines, diagnostics and vaccines, including promoting their research and development, for people in MSF’s care and beyond.
In that time, huge progress has been made in opening up access to medicines. But there's still work to be done.
In 2020, we wish for a world where medicines are not commodities or luxuries, but one where everyone has fair access to the treatment they need to stay alive and healthy.
Wish #1 - Better tuberculosis treatment available to everyone in need
When MSF first started treating people with drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB), we only had older medicines that were not an effective cure for people with resistant forms of TB and caused severe side effects for patients.
Today, following years of advocacy alongside the TB community, we now have safer and better treatments to offer people with drug-resistant TB. But manufacturers have put such a high price tag on the individual medicines that make up the treatment combination that not everyone in need can afford them.
These treatments were not developed by pharmaceutical corporations alone - they are the result of years of collaborative work by researchers, clinicians and health care providers, mostly publicly funded. Yet decisions over price and access remain in the control of drug corporations, leaving many people with TB shut out of life-saving treatment.
In 2020, we are determined to assert our right, in recognition of the multiple contributors involved, to have a say in who gets access to the new TB treatments.
Wish #2 - Make insulin affordable again
The scientists who discovered insulin nearly 100 years ago were given the Nobel Prize for Medicine, not just for their discovery, but because they chose to sell the rights to the medicine for just US$1, in the spirit of making insulin accessible to everyone in need.
But over the past century, three corporations moved in to dominate the insulin market almost exclusively. They have abused their monopoly position to drive up prices in some countries, year after year. Today, more than half the people who need insulin can’t actually get it.
Moving into 2020, we hope to see other manufacturers offer quality, approved insulin at more affordable prices. We must also find ways for people in the communities where we work to benefit from innovations in tools to deliver insulin, such as pens, which could make a huge difference to their lives.
Wish #3 - HIV medicines that match children's needs
Twenty years ago, people in developing countries were dying of advanced HIV (also known as AIDS), shut out of treatment by the US$10,000 per year price tag for a single person. MSF teams were determined to overcome this injustice and resorted to all means possible to get medicines to the people who needed it.
Today, almost 25 million people with HIV are alive and well on treatment, now priced as low as $65 a year. But children with HIV have been left behind.
There’s no commercial incentive for pharmaceutical corporations to specifically invest in paediatric treatments for HIV because virtually the only kids with HIV live in developing countries that can’t afford the medicines. So, children born with HIV in the communities where MSF works don’t have treatments that meet their needs.
Moving forward, we need to challenge a pharmaceutical industry that puts profits before people when it comes to investing in new medicines, so that we can treat children more effectively, with combination treatments adapted specifically to their needs.
Wish #4 - Affordable pneumonia vaccines for kids everywhere
Every 39 seconds, a child dies of pneumonia.
There is an effective vaccine to stop children contracting this dangerous and deadly illness. It used to be too expensive for children in the developing world but now donors subsidise the vaccine for kids in the poorest countries.
However, many millions of children living in middle-income countries continue to miss out on vaccination.
These middle-income countries are not considered "poor enough" to receive subsidies but they still cannot afford to buy the vaccine to protect their children, resulting in preventable deaths.
In 2020, we wish to see this terrible injustice and unnecessary suffering reversed. New vaccine producers from developing countries, who have created more affordable vaccines, must be supported to supply this vaccine to governments everywhere so more lives can be saved.
Wish #5 - Ebola medicines and vaccines for people most in need
The Ebola virus has been claiming lives for 40 years or more. Yet, until recently, nothing significant was done to develop any vaccines or treatments because it wasn't considered commercially attractive enough for drug companies.
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014 changed all this. What had been seen by rich countries as a "problem" for people in parts of Africa now took on the dimension of a global threat. This immediately galvanised the international community into action and today there are medicines and vaccines either already available or on the way.
As we move into 2020, we will work tirelessly to ensure that people in need get timely access to the new medicines and vaccines at an affordable price.
These products were developed through a remarkable collaborative research and development effort by multiple contributors in a development process funded almost entirely by the public, not private investment.
That’s why we assert our collective right to have a say in who gets access to Ebola treatments.
Wish #6 - A world where medicines are not a luxury
In 2020, we wish for a world where everyone has fair access to treatment to stay alive and healthy.
Medicines shouldn’t be a luxury.
We wish for change, not charity, and we hope you'll get involved by helping us to spread the word and campaign for change.
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