about available health care

Linked with Nils Daulaire – USA, and with Global Health Council.

Opening Statement by Nils Daulaire, M.D., M.P.H., President and CEO of Global Health Council (sorry, no date and place indicated): This is a remarkable gathering of representatives of government and multilateral agencies, private pharmaceutical companies whose businesses are based on research and development as well as those based on low-cost generic production, non-governmental organizations and academicians. We have assembled together in this room representatives of the entire spectrum of those from South and North who must play a role in making available essential drugs to the world’s poor – producers, service deliverers, advocates, and gadflies. We are all in this together and it’s about time that we sat down and talked. Globalization has driven many of the changes witnessed in the world over the past decade, but it has also highlighted inequities. Whether the forces of globalization are to blame or not, it is clear that the poorest of the poor are worse off today than they were ten years ago. And we recognize that poor women are at the very bottom of the economic ladder and at highest risk in terms of their health and well-being.

It is wrong when a woman dies because she cannot afford the basic care that could save her life. And it is socially and politically destabilizing to have a world divided into medical “haves” and “have-nots.” We can and we must take concrete steps to correct thisgrowing imbalance.For the past two years the issues of patents and pricing have held center stage because oftheir linkage with the exploding global AIDS pandemic and the tens of millions ofvictims who have no effective access to care. However, this meeting is not just aboutAIDS drugs; it is about essential drugs for the range of diseases that burden the health ofthe poor, and what practical steps can be taken to assure that price is not a principalbarrier to their access.Three million people died from AIDS last year, but another 14 million died as a result ofother infectious diseases and reproductive ill-health. But this was just the tip of theiceberg. Hundreds of millions of episodes of illness took place among the world’s poorthat further imprisoned them in the grips of poverty and desperation, that deprived themof their livelihoods and dignity. Many of these illnesses could either now or in the nearfuture benefit from on-patent drugs. So let us cast a wide net as we discuss these issuesover the next three days.The issues encompassed by differential pricing and financing of essential drugs – in otherwords the issues surrounding the affordability of pharmaceutical products for those whomost desperately need them – are a necessary but not sufficient aspect of assuring careand in reducing the global burden of disease among the most vulnerable. We are notlooking to address all of these issues in the short time we have, so our focus is clearly onone piece of the overall challenge. We make no pretense of using this forum to addressthe broader agenda.

We also have no illusions about the outcome of this meeting. We do not look to emergefrom these discussions with the answer to the challenges of equity pricing and intellectualproperty. But we do look to generate a set of common understandings about the realissues facing us so that progress can be made.Most importantly, we hope that progress at this meeting will allow the global communityto move beyond an exclusive focus on prices and patents so that the vital and broad areasof care and prevention can receive the international attention they so desperately deserve.And, in doing this, I hope we will take some small steps towards finding ways to bring allthe world’s people to the global banquet table.

We also have no illusions about the outcome of this meeting. We do not look to emergefrom these discussions with the answer to the challenges of equity pricing and intellectualproperty. But we do look to generate a set of common understandings about the realissues facing us so that progress can be made.Most importantly, we hope that progress at this meeting will allow the global communityto move beyond an exclusive focus on prices and patents so that the vital and broad areasof care and prevention can receive the international attention they so desperately deserve.And, in doing this, I hope we will take some small steps towards finding ways to bring allthe world’s people to the global banquet table.

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