A hundred pharmacists and students from across the world have descended in Kigali to discuss challenges of access to medicine.
The need for affordable medicines was echoed out at the inaugural global health course hosted at the University of Rwanda’s school of medicine, Kigali.
The three day program is attended by a group of pharmaceutical industry professionals and all stakeholders in this sector from 40 countries.
“Medicines should not be a luxury, they have to be affordable to all people at all levels” said, Dr.Pierre Claver Kayumba the deputy dean of the school of medicine at University of Rwanda.
Increased resistance to antibiotics and new microbial diseases has recently been noted as the biggest challenge facing the industry.
The World Health organization (WHO) indicates that Africa alone was home to over 10 new disease infections in the past decade.
“It is a worrying trend more so when you look at the rate at which new drugs are being discovered or produced, this is an issue of great concern for the population,” said Dr. Ife Joseph a participant from Nigeria.
If African countries are to meet the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development goals then innovation in the field of medicine was highlighted as crucial for the continent to achieve the set targets.
One of the key targets to achieving this goal is improved access to medicine and hospital utilities.
As far as Rwanda is concerned, access to medicine is improving, thanks to health insurance schemes of the civil servant and other public companies, private insurance companies, the military medical health insurance and the community health insurance, all running on cost sharing principle.
Although some countries seem to be on track to ensuring accessible medicine for all, for others accessibility is below 20%.
“You have situations where some countries have gone as far as using drone technology to ensure medicinal supplies are accessed by the population while others seem to drag their feet and this creates an imbalance if we are to achieve certain targets,” said Sizakele Dlamini a student from the Swaziland Christian University.
While dramatic rises in life expectancy are attributable to a number of factors, a recent report by the world health organization believes that access to medicines and development of new medicines have played a key role in tandem with the work of many African governments.
Meanwhile, the 27th African Union General Assembly that concluded in Kigali in July adopted Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa (PMPA). Among others, it intends to establish Africa’s local pharmacies, building strategic partnerships required for the development for the pharmaceutical industry to develop.