WWhile the world has been concerned about COVID-19, deaths from non-communicable diseases continue to have a major impact on poor nations. Every year, more than 15 million people worldwide die from NCDs between the ages of 30 and 69, and 85% of these premature deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. In fact, more people are dying from cancer in Africa than from malaria. However, many recent cancer treatments have not yet reached lower-income countries. Although treatments for all of these conditions exist, the barriers they maintain from patients are persistent and complex.
In the last two years since the COVID-19 pandemic began, I’ve learned that we can make progress when you leave the “regular business” and rethink the rule. We developed a vaccine in nine months and a treatment in 18 months, which would have taken many years before, and then we manufactured and shipped nearly three billion of those vaccines to nearly 180 countries and territories in a single year.
Now we need another step forward: ending the health inequalities between rich and poor nations. We can no longer bear that emptiness. Everyone has the same right to receive high-quality medicines and vaccines, regardless of income or geography. So now is the time to ask ourselves, how can we apply what we have learned in the fight against COVID-19 to all diseases and redefine the rules for quality health care?
The need is clear, but how we do it is more complicated.
Recent estimates suggest that it may take at least four to seven years longer for new drugs to be used in sub-Saharan Africa than in the US or Europe, and many more are never made available, severely restricting patients’ access to necessary treatments. Procurement can be tedious and cumbersome, especially for small nations. Initiatives such as the Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP) and the Africa Vaccines Acquisition Trust (AVAT) have contributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, enabling joint procurement and increasing the cost-effectiveness and transparency of emergency medicines and supplies. There is still more work to be done.
Today, Pfizer is launching the “World Health Agreement” as an important first step in applying what has been learned and bringing in new resources to address the health equity gap. The agreement is a comprehensive first-rate initiative that will significantly increase access for 1.2 billion people living in 45 low-income countries, all in 27 low-income countries and 18 countries in 18 low-income countries. -medium income classification in the last 10 years. We are committed to providing high-quality patented medicines and vaccines available in the United States or in the European Union — both current and future products — to non-profit governments in those countries.
Hundreds of millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccine are available free of charge, but the vaccine rate for adults in Africa is approximately 15%. The pandemic made it clear that supply is just one element of patient support, and under the agreement, we will work with governments and global health partners to accelerate access to fast-track regulations and identify the procurement system, identify unmet health system needs and mobilize resources. necessary for success. This includes technical expertise in supporting regulatory processes, innovative supply chain solutions, greater diagnostic capacity, innovative financing solutions and more to help governments achieve long-term success.
A company or government cannot deal with health inequality alone. Pfizer and many others have been working for a long time to try to address the barriers that limit health equity. Although significant progress has been made, we need to challenge the rule. We need an improved framework for global collaboration, innovative thinking, and scalable solutions to meet this seemingly impossible task. We aim to make the agreement a catalyst that brings together multidisciplinary partners to effectively implement solutions across the healthcare ecosystem.
We invite all who share our commitment and are willing to work in bold and courageous new ways to make commitments to their equity and work collectively to remove the barriers to better health to change the lives of people around the world.
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