Essential medicines are crucial to satisfy the priority health-care needs of the population, promote health, and achieve sustainable development.
Recognition of the importance of essential medicines is not new. The findings of the Lancet’s Commission synthesise lessons learned from the development of essential medicines policies over the past 30 years, and implementation after the landmark Nairobi Conference on the Rational Use of Drugs in 1985. This Commission explores and addresses ongoing questions such as: what progress has been achieved; what challenges remain to be addressed; which lessons have been learned to inform future approaches; and how can essential medicines policies be harnessed to promote universal health coverage and contribute to the global sustainable development agenda?
Debates about access to medicines have sometimes mistakenly focused on low-income and middle-income countries only. But the Commission shows that access to medicines is a global concern, irrespective of country income.
The Commission’s report makes actionable recommendations to make essential medicines a central pillar of the global health agenda, and to translate policies into meaningful and sustainable health gains for populations worldwide.
The five key areas discussed in this Commission are:
- Paying for a basket of essential medicines (listen to Commission co-leader Veronika Wirtz)
- Making medicines affordable (listen to Commission co-leader Andrew Gray)
- Ensuring quality of medicines
- Promoting quality medicines
- Developing new and missing medicines (listen to Commission co-leader Hans Hogerzeil)