1999-2019: 20 Years of Advocacy in Action

MSF’s Access Campaign marks 20 years of work to secure access to affordable medicines, diagnostics and vaccines, and to stimulate medical innovation that answers public health needs

In 2019, MSF marks the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Access Campaign, which has been working to secure access to affordable medicines, diagnostics and vaccines, including promoting their research and development, for people in MSF’s care and beyond. This milestone provides an opportunity to reflect on what has been learned and accomplished – and what needs to be done going forward – in medical innovation and in ensuring access for all people in need.

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Din Savorn, former Hepatitis C patient, Cambodia, July 2019

We were always desperately seeking a cure everywhere. Some people were bragging to me about getting (the new) treatment in Singapore for $10,000 or Vietnam for $8,000. If I wanted to have treatment, I would need to sell my house. So I decided to wait and if I died, well at least my kids would be left with the house.I am very grateful now to have this cure from MSF. It gives hope to my children and the chance to see their father’s face when they are grown up. #AccessLive

Goodman Mkhanda, XDR-TB survivor and activist, South Africa, July 2019

They always give us statistics how TB is killing millions, millions, of people in one year. So we say to the pharmacists, the technicians, the researchers, the scientists: Do something fast to prevent these people dying because without people, it's no country. Without people there's no scientists, without people it's no researchers. What will they research for if we are already gone? #AccessLives    

Jenny Hughes, former MSF doctor, South Africa, July 2019

I took Phumeza (Tisile) out for the day, and brought her to Lion's Head. But she was really struggling. So we got a third of the way up this mountain and I said, "Phumeza I think we should turn around." And she said "I'll tell you what. If there is one thing I'm gonna do, it's that I'm going to get to the top of this mountain. This is like XDR-TB, I'm gonna conquer this if it's the last thing." #AccessLives

Bernard Pecoul, Doctor , MSF Access Campaign's first Executive Director, July 2019

The atmosphere in the hospital where we were treating sleeping sickness was very tense because 1 in 20 of the patients who came to us died simply from the toxicity of the treatment. That's been my fight ever since, for more than 35 years, to try to bring something better for those patients. #AccessLives    

Leena Menghaney, Lawyer, MSF Access Campaign, India

We did everything we could, we shamed the company (Novartis pharmaceutical company), we went to shareholder meetings, we marched against them, we delivered petitions. I remember being so big and pregnant and it being so hot and we were all marching towards the court, and we were so determined. The only thing that we had were our voices. #AccessLives    

Phumeza Tisile, XDR-TB survivor and activist, South Africa

The amount of times I was told I was going to die, was like 3 times. And the numbers of pills swallowed was like 20,000-30,000 pills. If you get drug resistant TB, you get old drugs that make you deaf, blind or disabled for life. I didn’t understand what was that all about, why are the scientists not making the drugs. It didn’t make sense to me. #AccessLives

Phumeza Tisile, XDR-TB survivor and activist, South Africa

When I got cured, this was the moment that I wanted to get involved, to get everyone a fair chance at life, get everyone access to medicine that is life-saving. I took it upon me to help other people who didn’t have the stage I was given. #AccessLives    

Daniel Berman, former Deputy Director, MSF Access Campaign

I had volunteered in New York with the Gay Men’s Health Crisis buddy network when I lived there, at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic when there was no HIV treatment. They assigned you to one person and everyone died at that time. I remember in terms of experience - even though the people were in New York, in a nice hospital and had their own room - at the end of the day, it doesn't really make much of a difference, because you're so sick. Whether you're on a cot in the slum in Nairobi or you were in the hospital in Manhattan, the experience was weirdly similar. #AccessLives    

Dr Tido von Schoen Angerer, Former Executive Director Access Campaign

It was the Novartis 'Drop the Case' Campaign and we had a meeting in a small house by Lake Geneva between CEO Daniel Vasela and Mary Robinson and Ruth Dreyfuss – two grand ladies, both former heads of state, who treated him like a naughty boy. He was put on the spot but he stuck to his guns. Novartis lost the case, we won. #AccessLives

Eric Goemaere, Doctor, MSF South Africa

I brought the Boeringher Ingelheim pharmaceutical CEO into my consulting room where I was examining a 9 year-old boy dying of HIV. He had offered courageously to visit our clinic. During the consultation, he fell silent. At the end he asked if he could pay personally for the boy’s treatment. I said of course - but we're asking you to provide us access to the medicines so we can treat the thousands of boys who need treatment. #AccessLives    

20th Anniversary Magazine