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[e-drug] MeTA: a new alliance to improve access to medicines

E-DRUG: MeTA: a new alliance to improve access to medicines
[DFID press release on the global launch of the Medicines Transparency
Alliance (MeTA), which was held 15-16 May in London; for those
E-druggers present at the WHO Assembly this week: there will be another
MeTA launch on Wednesday 21 May, 1300-1430 hours, in Salle XXII of the
Palais des Nations in Geneva. Entrance free. Sourced from the new MeTA
website at www.MedicinesTransparency.org WB]

MeTA: a new alliance to improve access to medicine in developing

Today, Secretary of State for International Development, Douglas
Alexander, launched a powerful new health alliance which could save the
lives of 10.5 million people in developing countries each year by 2015. 

International institutions, the World Health Organization, the World
Bank, governments, civil society and business have joined together to
form the Medicines Transparency Alliance (MeTA) to improve the health
and lives of millions of people. Currently one in three people around
the world still don't have access to the basic medicines they need to
fight illness and ten million children die each year for want of cheap
and effective drugs. 

Up to a third of medicines on the market in developing countries are
fakes and a recent study published by the American Enterprise Institute
found that a third of malaria drugs sold in six African cities either
did not contain high enough levels of active ingredient, or did not
dissolve properly. 

[DFID Secretary of State] Douglas Alexander said:

"Too many people die needlessly because they can't get the medicines
they need. There are currently 2 billion people around the world who do
not have access to affordable medical services. A lot of medicines are
not affordable, they are of poor quality, or they are simply not

"The problems of price, quality and availability can be tackled by
improving transparency and access to information. MeTA will provide
citizens, health care workers and others with information to challenge
corruption, excessive pricing and waste. We now have a common approach
and by working together millions of lives could be saved."

In Ghana, the lowest paid government worker - who still earns more than
half of their fellow countrymen and women - would have to work for a
week simply to afford a course of malaria treatment. 

Andreas Seiter, Senior Health Specialist - Pharmaceuticals, The World
Bank said:
"MeTA provides an excellent opportunity to broaden the discussion on
sound pharmaceutical policies and good governance in the sector.  The
World Bank is looking forward to contributing to the success of MeTA,
keeping in mind the ultimate goal of improving access to effective, safe
and affordable medicines".

A number of factors affect the supply of medicine in developing
countries. In some cases those running healthcare systems fail to buy
sufficient quantities of the right drugs, whether through lack of
funding or organisation. When the right drugs are bought, there are
problems distributing them to health centres and pharmacies and
sometimes criminals and corrupt officials steal medicines or buy
counterfeits. The effect is always the same. The poorest are hit

Dr Carissa Etienne, Assistant Director-General, WHO said:

"Transparency in medicine regulation and pricing is increasingly being
recognized as improving the quality of health services"

MeTA will be piloted in Ghana, Uganda, Zambia, The Philippines, Jordan,
The Kyrgyz Republic and Peru over a two year period. Following the pilot
phase the MeTA model will be revised based on lessons learned to enable
other countries to join MeTA and increase access to medicines for poor
and vulnerable people. 


Notes to editors:

1.      MeTA will be launched at a two day event at Lancaster House 15 -
16 May. Secretary of State for International Development, Douglas
Alexander, will give the keynote address and other speakers will include
the Secretary  of Health of the Philippines, the Vice Minister of Health
of Peru and the Deputy Minister of Health of Ghana

2.      The goal of the Medicines Transparency Alliance (MeTA) is to
contribute to increased access to affordable essential medicines in
developing countries, in cooperation with pharmaceutical companies. This
is in line with Millennium Development Goal 8, Target 17 which states 
- Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development
- Target 17: In cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, provide
access to affordable essential medicines in developing countries.

MeTA Secretariat: 112 Malling Street, Lewes, East Sussex BN7 2RJ, United
MeTA Office Tel: +44 1273 486861
MeTA Office Fax: +44 1273 478485
MeTA Website: www.MedicinesTransparency.org
MeTA Archives: www.dfidhealthrc.org/MeTA/

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