MSF trained staff pack bags of medication for TB and HIV patients at the pharmacy at Epworth Clinic, on Harare’s outskirts.
Press release |

MSF urges India to defend medicines life-line for millions of Africans

Photograph by Rachel Corner
MSF trained staff pack bags of medication for TB and HIV patients at the pharmacy at Epworth Clinic, on Harare’s outskirts. Photograph by Rachel Corner

Nairobi, 8 July 2016 — Ahead of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first state visit to Kenya, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) urges the Indian government to safeguard its role in supplying more affordable generic medicines to millions of people in Kenya and the rest of the continent.

Kenya imports high volumes of medicines from India, including life-saving antiretrovirals for HIV and anti-tuberculosis medicines. During Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Kenya, President Kenyatta is further seeking India’s partnership in the area of oncology and is expecting donations of medicines and medical equipment. Read State House Media Briefing.

However, India is under immense pressure from the United States and its multinational pharmaceutical corporations to roll back its pro-public health patent rules that put people above corporate profits. If India caves in to this pressure, the results could be devastating for Kenyans and millions of people across Africa and other developing countries, and lead to monopolistic practices that price medicines out of reach.

MSF’s response to PM Modi’s visit to Kenya

“Medicines from India have allowed the government, MSF, and other treatment providers to dramatically scale up HIV treatment in Kenya from 3 percent of people with HIV on treatment in 2003 to 60 percent by end of 2015. We urge Prime Minister Modi to uphold India’s role in providing more affordable versions of new medicines to Kenya and other developing countries and to reject all efforts to weaken or eliminate critically-important public health safeguards from its law.”

“Furthermore, the rapid proliferation of non-communicable diseases such as cancer has begun to engender the next crisis in access to affordable medicines in many African countries and beyond. India can play an important role to overcome high prices that act as an absolute barrier to NCD treatment.”

“At the third India-Africa Summit held in New Delhi last October, India and the governments of the African Union agreed to cooperate in ensuring access to affordable medicines, and to foster innovation to address public health needs of developing countries. This commitment must be taken forward and matched with actions to support the efforts of the Kenyan government to ensure Kenyans have affordable access to the medicines they need.”

- Christa Cepuch, MSF Access Campaign