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[e-drug] Young people have a new vision for essential medicines

E-DRUG: Young people have a new vision for essential medicines
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Dear E-drug readers,

I am sharing you a correspondence published recently in The Lancet Diabetes
and Endocrinology on ATM.

Young people have a new vision for essential medicines

The struggle to secure equitable access to affordable, quality medicines
transcends national borders and affects patients of all ages. Young people
are inheriting an inequitable and dysfunctional system that often fails to
deliver life-saving drugs. These systemic deficits range from the present
research and development system that is unable to meet population health
needs, to stringent intellectual property protections restricting access
and innovation, and to weak health systems that render medicine service
delivery and use inadequate. Being less bound by the interests of existing
institutions, young people have a unique role in analysing and advocating
for transformative policies to ensure access to medicines. They should be
partners in shaping and implementing a sustainable system that serves

Well designed youth policies and strategies give young people the means to
collaborate in shaping their own future within healthy and resilient
societies. The National Strategy for Young Australians, for example,
recognises the potential of young people to address the problems of climate
change, terrorism, ageing societies, and health infrastructure. Indeed,
young people can contribute to addressing many more systemic social issues.
The reorientation of sectoral policies and strategies to engage the next
generation in advancing access to services and drugs for non-communicable
diseases, along with other challenges in the sustainable development
agenda, is long overdue. Young people should be equipped with the critical
thinking skills to overcome barriers to equitable access, affordability,
availability, and quality of pharmaceutical products.

For young researchers, many institutions offer workshops and universities
run courses on intellectual property considerations and technology
transfer, with a patentable discovery as an aim and commercial licensing as
the only option.2 Greater knowledge and awareness of social responsibility
licensing and research and development models, including the concept of
delinkage, should also be readily accessible. Universities Allied for
Essential Medicines3 and the Young Professionals Chronic Disease Network
<http://ypchronic.org/> have used a decentralised approach to education by
providing such information, but formal incorporation of this content into
academic institutions could reap substantial benefits.

The UN Major Group for Children and Youth (MGCY), mandated by UN
resolutions for civil society engagement in high-level decision making,4 was
virtually absent in the recent UN Secretary General's High-Level Panel on
Access to Medicines (HLPAM). Awareness needs to be raised among young
people about the process in HLPAM and how it is linked to the Sustainable
Development Goals. There should be opportunities for engagement at local or
regional levels to ensure that the global policy discourse translates into
realisation of access locally. An opportunity will arise at the proposed
Youth Gateway Initiative,5 which is to be co-convened by the UN's Office of
the Secretary General's Envoy on Youth and MGCY.

The Lancet Youth Commission on Essential Medicine Policies
<http://www.ycemp.com/>, was formed in March, 2015, as an independent
commission complementing the work of the Lancet Commission on Essential
Medicine Policies

As a global team of young professionals from diverse backgrounds, we will be
releasing a report in the coming months that seeks to provide
evidence-based policy recommendations and raise awareness, not only to
describe what is known, but also to elaborate on what principles and
long-term solutions are needed to achieve equitable access. We seek
accountability from those who wield power to make decisions that will
affect us all.

Next year will mark the 40-year anniversary of the revolutionary WHO
Essential Medicine List.6Noting that young people comprise nearly a quarter
of the world's population, yet are underrepresented in decision-making
bodies, we recommend a more inclusive approach, especially in the
formulation of policies to tackle inequities in access to drugs. By
challenging the present systems, we are hopeful that our call for a new
reality will be heard, and that the world will be set by the example of
devoted and forward-looking policy makers.

All authors are the members of the Lancet Youth Commission on Essential
Medicines Policies. We declare no competing interests.

Link to the paper and the references


Best regards,

Shiva Raj Mishra
MPH (Research Methods)
Commissioner at The Lancet Youth Commission on Essential Medicine Policies,
Assoc. Editor, BMC Public Health, BMC series, London, UK
University of Western Australia, U 6 15 Stirling Hwy Crawley WA 6009,
Shiva Raj Mishra <shivarajmishra@gmail.com>
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