By Belynda Amankwa, UNDP Programme Specialist, Access and Delivery Partnership
Access to medicines is an age old problem. However, in recent times there have been new calls to address this issue. This renewed interest is laudable because over 400 million people worldwide lack access to health care, medicines and diagnostics according to recent WHO and World Bank reports. Behind these statistics are individual stories of lives marred by diseases which can be treated, prevented or cured by health technologies they simply have no access to.
Issues that affect access to health technologies are complex and require novel integrated approaches to deal with them. Thus in 2013, with funding from the Government of Japan, UNDP initiated the Access and Delivery Partnership (ADP) to systematically address the bottlenecks associated with the access and delivery of new health technology in low and middle income countries.
The ADP’s approach has been to strengthen 6 critical pathways that impact access to health technologies namely legal and policy issues, implementation research, safety issues, supply chain issues, resource allocation and strategic information and evidence. The ADP partners- UNDP, TDR (the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases) and PATH work on these critical areas based on their comparative advantages.
UNDP supports countries to develop an enabling legal and policy framework that improves access and delivery of health technology, WHO-TDR supports countries to improve their capacity in implementation research and PATH supports countries to address issues related to resource allocation, procurement and supply chain.
In Ghana, the ADP is strengthening the policy and legal framework for health technologies, implementation research, and improving pharmacovigilance. In 2016, ADP supported the ministry of health to revise the national medicines policy. The national medicines policy (NMP) provides the needed framework to ensure ‘universal, equitable and sustainable access to priority, efficacious and safe medicines and other health technologies of acceptable quality for all people living in Ghana’.
Furthermore, working with the Ghana Health Service, the ADP is strengthening the capacities of program managers to effectively deal with implementation bottlenecks associated with utilization of health technologies. In 2017, the Access and Delivery Partnership (ADP) would consolidate achievements in the focus countries- Ghana, Tanzania and Indonesia to further strengthen access to health technology. Ultimately, health technology should be accessible to all who need it- be it a young adult with multiple drug resistant tuberculosis in Africa or a mother living with lymphatic filariasis in Asia; it is not a luxury, it is an imperative.
This blog has been originally published on 24 January 2017.