Now is the time to address the global health equity gap

As the world deals with COVID-19, deaths from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) continue to hit poor countries at an alarming rate. More than 15 million people between the ages of 30 and 69 die from NCDs worldwide each year, and 85% of these premature deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. In fact, more people in Africa die from cancer than from malaria. Yet many of the latest cancer treatments have not yet reached lower income countries. While treatments exist for all of these conditions, the barriers that keep them away from patients are persistent and complex.

In the past 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 norm, we achieve breakthroughs. We developed a vaccine in just nine months and a treatment in 18 months that would previously have taken many years, and then in just one year we produced and shipped more than three billion of those vaccines to nearly 180 countries and territories.

Now we need another breakthrough: to end the health inequalities that exist between rich and poor countries. We can no longer tolerate this gap. Everyone, regardless of income or geography, has the same rights to receive high-quality, safe and effective medicines and vaccines. So, now is the time to ask ourselves, how can we apply what we’ve learned in our fight against COVID-19 to all diseases and redefine the standard for access to quality healthcare?

The need is clear, but how we do this is more complicated.

Recent estimates show that it can take at least four to seven years longer for new drugs to be approved for use in sub-Saharan Africa than in the US or Europe, and many others are never made available, limiting patients’ access to critically necessary treatments. is significantly limited. Purchasing channels can be tedious and cumbersome, especially for smaller countries. Initiatives such as the Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP) and the Africa Vaccines Acquisition Trust (AVAT) have helped during the COVID-19 pandemic, enabling unified sourcing and increasing cost-effectiveness and transparency for emergency medicines and supplies. There is still more work to be done.

Today, Pfizer launches “A Deal for a Healthier World” as an important first step to apply what we’ve learned and provide new tools to close the health equity gap. The deal is a first of its kind, comprehensive initiative that will focus on significantly increasing access for 1.2 billion people in 45 low-income countries – all 27 low-income countries and 18 countries that have transitioned from low-income countries. to lower-income countries. – middle-income classification in the past 10 years. We are committed to providing our proprietary, high-quality drugs and vaccines available in the US or the European Union – both current and future products – to the governments of these countries on a non-profit basis.

Hundreds of millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses are available for free, but the adult vaccination rate in Africa is about 15%. The pandemic has made it clear that supply is just one element to help patients, under the accord we will work with governments and global health partners to identify rapid and efficient regulatory pathways and procurement systems to accelerate access, identify unmet needs of the health system and mobilize the resources necessary for success. This includes technical expertise to support regulatory processes, innovative supply chain solutions, increased diagnostic capacity, innovative financing solutions and more to help governments achieve long-term success.

No company or government can tackle the health inequalities of generations alone. Pfizer and many others have long worked to address the barriers that limit health equity. While significant progress has been made, we must challenge the norm. We need an enhanced framework for global partnership, innovative thinking and scalable solutions to tackle this seemingly impossible task. We strive for the Accord to be a catalyst that brings together multidisciplinary partners to effectively apply solutions across the entire healthcare ecosystem.

We invite all who share our commitment and are ready to work in bold and bold new ways to meet their own equality commitments and work collectively to remove barriers to better health to improve the lives of people around the world. change.

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