As 2016 draws to a close, MSF’s Access Campaign team welcomes the opportunities 2017 will bring for our work to increase access to medicines for our patients and others in developing countries.
This year we share the wishes and dreams of five of our medical colleagues direct from where they work — in places as far apart as Belarus, Liberia, and Jordan.
All our medical staff want to offer the very best medical care they can, but often they don’t have the right medical ‘tools’ — vaccines, drugs, tests — available to do the best job they could because these products simply don’t exist, or else they’re too expensive or aren’t being registered in countries to make them available.
The way medicines are currently developed means that medicines for diseases that mainly affect poor people — or for people who can’t pay much — don’t tend to get the necessary research and development funding. That’s something that we definitely wish to see change at MSF, and we’ll be bringing you more news about this as the year unfolds.
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Buckle up — there’s a fast ride ahead for all of us in 2017 and we’d like you alongside!
Sarah Goddard in South Sudan:
"Fever is a common symptom for many diseases that infect the children who are brought to our projects. Sometimes it’s hard to establish the exact underlying cause of disease in a child."
There are sophisticated tests that could identify infections precisely, but often they can’t be used in the places we work.
We wish for better and more effective diagnostic tests to identify infections precisely.
Dr Anas in Jordan:
"In refugee camps, in cities, in remote rural areas, children are dying of pneumonia. Every year, a million children die of the disease."
We are able to protect children from this disease with a simple vaccine. So why is it that around sixty countries still cannot afford the vaccine to protect their children?
We wish the pneumonia vaccine was available for $5 per child (for all three doses) in all developing countries.
Paul Beko in DRC:
"The patients who come to us and are diagnosed with sleeping sickness need to be treated with multiple slow infusions over a ten-day period.
This requires patients to stay under our care during that period, which is disruptive to their lives and livelihoods. Creating the conditions where this kind of complex treatment can be administered is very challenging for us given the places where we work, and patients can slip through the net."
We wish for a shorter, pill-based treatment to make it easier to cure more people with sleeping sickness.
Dr Animesh Sinha from Belarus:
"Our staff treat many patients with drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis. The treatment is very tough to go through, and can’t guarantee a cure."
There are new drugs for TB that are both more effective and less toxic, but only a fraction of those who could benefit from them can get hold of them — high prices and lack of registration are major barriers to access.
We wish new TB drugs — bedaquiline and delamanid — could be made much more widely available.
Read: how MSF has used the two new TB drugs and the results of the new regimens
Letter: we wrote a letter to Johnson & Johnson expressing concerns with lack of availability & affordability of bedaquiline worldwide
Call to BRICS: we urged BRICS countries to take action to halt the TB epidemic
Our staff felt helpless in 2014 when the Ebola crisis broke out in West Africa.
We did what we could to ease people’s suffering and contain the spread of the disease, but without effective medicines, tests or vaccines to treat, diagnose or prevent the disease, we faced an impossible task. The disease outbreak went on to kill more than 11,000 people.
Recently, promising trial results were published for a new vaccine to protect against the Ebola strain that caused the West African outbreak.
But we still need a vaccine that could prevent epidemics caused by other variants of the virus.
We wish for a vaccine that will protect against all strains of the Ebola virus and other related viruses.