An investment of only $1-2 (0.90-1.80 euros) per person per month could give all people in low- and middle-income countries access to a basket of 201 essential medicines, researchers said Monday. One in five countries spend less than this amount on medicine, highlighting "the urgent need for additional financing to meet basic health care needs," said a special publication by The Lancet medical journal.
A basket of essential medicines includes pain killers such as morphine, drugs against infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV or malaria, treatments for chronic conditions such as cancer or diabetes, as well as vaccines and contraceptives. Dubbed The Lancet Commission on Essential Medicines, the overview highlighted "massive inequities and inefficiencies" in financing and governance between regions, hampering access to drugs for many people. It was compiled by 21 international experts and made recommendations to governments, NGOs, health institutions, medicine regulatory agencies and the pharmaceutical industry.
The team used numbers on disease prevalence, drug consumption and medicine prices to estimate the cost of access to a basket of essential medicines at between $77.4 billion and $151.9 billion per year -the equivalent of $12.9-25.4 per person. "Recent estimates suggest that the average total spend on medicines in low-income countries is $8.6 per person per year," said a statement by The Lancet. Most of it came from household budgets, rather than government ones.
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