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Access to Medicines

The spread and impact of HIV on the grandmothers, children and their communities are inextricably linked to obstacles to access to medicines, a fundamental element of the Human Right to Health as noted in the World Health Organization’s Constitution.

The issue of access to medicines is also reflected in both the UN Millennium Development Goals which expire in 2015 and their replacements, the Sustainable Development Goals which are due to be adopted this year. Both include the following goal: Ensure healthy lives and promote well being for all at all ages. 

Advocating for access to affordable life saving medicines has been at the core of GRAN's mandate since our beginning.  Our work began with efforts to affect legislative changes to the Canadian Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR) that would have facilitated Canadian exports of affordable generic antiretroviral medicines to the developing world.  Our work has since focused on intellectual property issues in trade agreements, pushing for Canada’s fair contribution to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and supporting the work of the Medicines Patent Pool. It is presently being broadened to include a campaign on improving access to affordable life-saving vaccines.

The Fight to End Tuberculosis (TB)

TB is a highly infectious and deadly lung disease and is easily spread. Children, especially, are often misdiagnosed. Close to 95% of people with TB live in low- and middle-income countries, mainly in Africa and Asia. The World Health organization reported 10.4 million new cases of TB in 2016, of which one million were children. In the same year, there were 1.4 million deaths due to TB, including 250,000 children.

On September 26th, 2018 the United Nations is convening a one day High Level meeting on TB and has invited “Heads of States” to focus on:

Trade Agreements

Trade agreements should not be used to undermine TRIPs (Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) flexibilities, which provide measures for countries dealing with public health emergencies and epidemics to access life-saving medicines. These flexibilities can be undermined by including provisions in trade agreements that lengthen and strengthen patents or allow for “evergreening” (extending a patent by making minor modifications to the product that do not improve the product, but protect the company holding the patent). (CMAJ, 2013 June 11, Collier).

Medicines Patent Pool

The Medicines Patent Pool (MPP), set up in 2010 by the UN, is designed to make HIV medications more affordable as well as more suitable for use in developing countries.  The MPP encourages brand-name pharmaceutical companies to place their patents with the Pool. The MPP then grants licenses to generic manufacturers who compete to produce lower-price antiretroviral medicines.  

Vaccines

Immunization (vaccination) is one of the most successful and cost-effective health interventions. Vaccination prevents 2-3 million deaths every year and protects children not only against childhood diseases but also against diseases such as pneumonia and rotavirus diarrhea, the two leading killers of children under-five in the developing world.

Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria

The Global Fund to Fights AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is widely regarded as one of the most effective and efficient funding mechanisms for combating these deadly, yet preventable, diseases.  Canada has been a reliable contributor to the Global Fund at its replenishment conferences every three years. We congratulate the Canadian government on hosting the last the conference In September, 2016 in Montreal and for its generous pledge of $804 million for the period 2017 - 2019.  This amount reflects more than a 20% increase over the last replenishment.