Overcoming Barriers to Accessible Medicine in Developing Countries

Access to safe, affordable, and quality medicines is one of the essential components of a persons right to health. However, in most developing countries, most of the population is in need of drugs, vaccines, and other medications due to various barriers.


In transitional countries, medicines take up 20% to 60% of health expenditures, while almost 90% of people in growing nations buy medication out of pocket. As a result, there’s a global approach from governmental and non-governmental organisations to make drugs more accessible for residents of low and middle-income countries (LMICs). What are these barriers, and how are the key stakeholders bridging the gap between them and the inhabitants of emerging nations?


Key Barriers Hindering Access to Vital Medicines


Below, we highlight the major barriers limiting access to quality medicines in third-world nations.


Economic Constraints


Economic difficulty is the most common barrier hindering access to vital medicines in emerging states, especially in the Middle East and Latin American countries.


Because of the harsh economic realities in these regions, many people living in the countries that make them up cannot afford essential medicines, as many have to purchase medications out of pocket.


Regulatory Barriers


Another reason people in emerging states do not have easy channels of getting medicine is because of the regulatory challenges local pharmaceutical companies face. Innovators like local manufacturers, scientists and researchers must get patents when producing new, more affordable drugs.


Unfortunately, many of these key players in the Latin American medical sector are underfunded by the government. So, producing new medicines or developing more affordable alternatives is ultimately affected, leaving the populace with imported, expensive options.


Limited Healthcare Facilities


While the global medical industry is affected by insufficient workers, the inadequacy of health workers is more prevalent in the Middle East and Latin American nations. In Latin America, more than 140 million people do not get easy medical care.


Similarly, limited healthcare facilities like hospitals and pharmacies result in poor medical delivery and a low ratio of medical personnel per population. The result of this limitation ultimately makes medical intervention challenging, especially regarding the accessibility of medicines and vaccines.


Political and Social Factors


The lack of political and social will to invest in the health sector is another challenge plaguing developing nations. There is little focus on medical efficiency, from the lack of favourable government policies like trade agreements to low investment in healthcare infrastructure, including pharmaceutical production and distribution programmes.


Cultural and social beliefs also impact people’s search for drugs. For instance, people living in rural communities may prefer traditional medicines and medical practitioners to modern options. Similarly, the social stigma around diseases like HIV/AIDS can play a part in people’s demand for treatment and medication.


Patient-Level Barriers


Besides the general barriers to medicine accessibility in budding nations, there are challenges on patient-to-patient levels. These include individual challenges that can hinder people from accessing medicines.


Some of these barriers are;


  • Lack of awareness or understanding among uneducated people
  • Preference for herbal medications
  • Proximity to healthcare facilities
  • Inadequate/non-existent social support
  • Language barriers between medical professionals and patients from different parts of the country


The Role of Technology and Innovation


First-world states like the US, UK, and Canada have leveraged technology and innovation to improve healthcare delivery to medicine accessibility. Third-world states can also improve drug availability with technological advancements like;


  • Remote consultations through telemedicine and mobile health delivery
  • E-Pharmacies to order medicines online and receive them at a designated address
  • Electronic Health Record (EHR) management to accurately store and easily get patients’ data
  • Educational healthcare apps to educate people about their health and healthcare-related decisions
  • Collaborative platforms for healthcare providers, including researchers, pharmacies, and businesses, to consolidate their efforts and develop innovative solutions


Global Partnerships for Sustainable Change


Since a significant barrier to medicine accessibility in emerging nations is the lack of political will and cooperation at the national level, healthcare providers in such nations can solicit support at the international level.


For instance, such nations can seek support from medical organisations and donor nations focusing on disease-specific interventions or strengthening health systems to positively impact their access to medicines and develop new initiatives for sustainable change.


Shaping Policies for Improved Medicine Access


Governments in developing nations must act decisively to address the health concerns that their people face. Here are a few doable actions:


  • Reduce the cost of medications by controlling prices and providing subsidies.
  • Promote the creation of affordable substitutes by allocating resources towards research and innovation.
  • To assist stakeholders, streamline the medical industry’s patenting procedures.
  • Offer citizens health insurance plans.
  • Encourage cross-border cooperation to increase investments in and efforts for global health.


Empowering Communities for Sustainable Health Solutions


Another way to improve medicine access in third-world countries is to implement community development programmes and policies addressing people’s needs at the grassroots level. For instance, the government can build community health centres or invest in existing ones to take medical access closer to people living in rural communities.


At the same time, it can develop and enact educational programmes to sensitise the public about the importance of seeking modern healthcare, using their medications, and understanding treatment plans.


How Masters Are Improving Medicine Access in Developing Countries


Masters Global is an international pharmaceutical company that collaborates with top commercial life science companies to distribute essential medicines to emerging markets, especially Latin America and Middle Eastern nations.


With the goal of helping partners reach patients who need their life-saving medicines, we are located in eight countries, including the US, UK, UAE, El Salvador, Brazil, and Dubai. Boasting nearly four decades of experience, we help partners penetrate each country’s market to improve access to medicine in emerging economies.