Missing Medicines Coalition Responds to New UK International Development Strategy:
This week the UK Government released its new International Development Strategy. The Missing Medicines Coalition welcomes references within this strategy to improving access to vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, and commitments to equitable access to medicines. Indeed, it was fantastic to see the UK making commitments to equitable access within vaccination programmes and biomedical research and development processes during its G7 Presidency, and recent commitments to the 100-day mission regarding vaccines. However, we believe that far more can be done by the UK to improve global equitable access:
Firstly, UK public investment must have public return. The UK must ensure that ‘British Investment’ that is funded by public money has a public return and represents the views of the British public. In the context of access to medicines, equitable access conditions must therefore be attached to any public funding.
Next, it is great to see the UK recognising the importance of sharing ‘good ideas, scientific advances, new technologies, expertise and evidence’. However, the UK has failed to do this throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, enabling the pharmaceutical industry to maintain a monopoly over access to COVID-19 tools. To demonstrate their commitment to transparency and sharing, the UK Government must support the original TRIPS waiver proposed by South Africa and India and commit to improving transparency within biomedical research and development processes.
In addition, the UK Government must strengthen the manufacturing capacity of low- and middle-income countries. We welcome that the strategy acknowledges the capacity of people in low- and middle-income countries to improve their lives. For the UK to strengthen or ‘unleash’ this potential in the context of health systems and access to medicines, the UK must increase support for improved local manufacturing capacity for health tools in these countries. For example, the UK must demonstrate public support for the WHO mRNA hubs initiative with provision of funding and expertise.
Lastly, equitable access must underscore all efforts to improve pandemic preparedness. We support that the UK is committed to focus on strengthening global pandemic preparedness and response, particularly the recognition that we need to strengthen health systems. To enable this to happen, equitable access to health tools must be a priority within this commitment.
We will continue to work as a coalition to lobby the UK Government to adopt the changes required to ensure equitable access to medicines for all. To get involved check out our ‘Take Action’ page or get in contact.