Nepal to make essential medicines affordable to all

Nepal to make essential medicines affordable to all

Kathmandu: Nepal has committed to make essential medicines, vaccines, diagnostics and medical devices affordable and accessible to all. Participating in the 71st Regional Committee meeting of WHO South East Asia Region, Upendra Yadav, and Minister for Health and Population has signed in the ‘ministerial declaration’ on access to emergency medical products today in New Delhi, India. Ten other WHO member countries of South-East Asia Region have also committed to make these devices affordable and accessible to all, both within the Region and beyond.

The meeting was co-chaired by Minister Yadav.  The Committee held annually and is hosted by one of the 11 Member countries or the WHO South-East Asia Regional Office. Meantime, the Member countries agreed to ensure universal accessibility and affordability of essential medical products by 2030, as part of achieving universal health coverage (UHC) and the health related goals of SDG 2030 agenda. Health ministers and officials of the 11 Member countries also signed the ‘Delhi Declaration’ to improve access to essential medical products.

“Access to safe, effective and affordable medical products vital to prevent sufferings and impoverishment resulting from high out-of-pocket expenses on healthcare by families, especially the poor,” Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region, said.

It is noticeable that medical products are a major component of out-of-pocket health care spending which has pushed 65 million people into poverty in the WHO South-East Asia Region. Though significant efforts have been made by countries in recent years, as improving access to essential medicines is a WHO flagship priority programme in the Region since 2014, challenges remain in providing the right medical products at the right time to those in need.

To overcome challenges, the Delhi Declaration calls for allocation of sufficient financial resources by countries, as part of overall health financing strategies, to reduce out-of-pocket payments of families on essential medicines. The declaration calls for strengthening national policies, regulation, supply chain management, and capacity to leverage intellectual property and trade for public health, to improve access to medicines and vaccines.