Why Access to Medicine is Important
Access to medicine is a cornerstone of public health and an effective indicator of social equality.
According to Medecins Sans Frontieres, roughly a third of the world doesn’t have access to essential medicines, rising to around one-half in parts of Africa and Asia. The provision of medicine and healthcare services varies at international, regional, and local scales, and affects both high, middle and low-income countries.
The United Nations (UN) reinforced the importance of enhancing access to medicines by adding it to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The UN defines the minimum standards of medical provision as ‘access to a minimum list of 20 essential medicines, which are continuously available and affordable at a health facility or medicines outlet, within a 1-hour walk from the patient’s home.’
However, in our modern world, this should encompass more than essential medicines and basic health services.
The Impact on Health Outcomes
The immediate impact of lacking provision of medicine and healthcare services is worsening health outcomes. Medicine plays a fundamental role in slowing the development of disease and related complications, increasing quality of life and decreasing mortality rates.
In many cases, lacking or untimely treatment causes conditions to worsen considerably faster than if treatment was administered early. Early pharmacological intervention is associated with improved outcomes across virtually all forms of the disease, from cardiovascular and neurological disease to cancer and mental disorders.
For infectious diseases, poor provision of drugs affects the individual and the community, as lacking or untimely treatment increases disease transmission. For instance, studies across parts of Africa and Asia associate high mortality rates resulting from infectious diseases with poor provision of essential medicine, particularly in isolated areas.
The accessibility of vaccines and other medical treatments was instrumental amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, where low to middle-income areas were often hit hardest due to slower medicine rollout.
The Role of Access to Medicine in Saving Lives
Quick medical attention can mean the difference between life and death.
Many acute conditions, like asthma attacks, heart attacks, stroke, or severe allergic reactions, require immediate medical intervention to save lives. Even minor injuries such as cuts or grazes can develop into life-threatening infections without treatment with basic drugs like antibiotics.
In developing countries, where infectious diseases like malaria, HIV, Ebola, and other diseases are leading causes of mortality, prompt treatment with appropriate and affordable medicines dramatically reduces death rates.
Timely and effective treatment has a snowballing benefit when applied to fast-spreading infectious diseases. This includes preventive interventions, such as administering anti-malarial drugs in high-risk areas.
The Importance of Access to Life-Saving Healthcare
The term “life-saving healthcare” encompasses more than the provision of medications. It also represents accessibility to essential health-related services, from surgical procedures to diagnostic tests and rehabilitation.
● For instance, safe and effective surgical operations require high-quality surgical care, including anaesthetics and infection control. Effective medical treatment increases surgical success rates and helps reduce the risk of complications both during and after the operation.
● Preventative services, such as regular health check-ups, diagnostic tests and screening programmes, are also crucial in enhancing public health. By identifying risk factors and preventing disease onset through early pharmacological treatment, these services can slow or even reverse the disease trajectory in some cases, such as intervening in prediabetes before it evolves into diabetes.
● Access to rehabilitation services, too, is vital. Essential medicines like anti-inflammatories and rehabilitative care can improve quality of life and accelerate recovery times for those recovering from surgeries, strokes, heart attacks or injuries.
Driving Change for Access to Medicine
A 2019 study by Ozawa et al. states that improving the availability of drugs revolves around affordability, equitable distribution, healthcare infrastructure, and health literacy.
The authors say this involves providing the “right medicines of the right quality, at the right price and at the right place.”
Governments, international organisations, pharmaceutical companies, and national, regional and local communities are central to driving change by making medicines available at all levels, including in isolated areas.
Collaborative efforts like driving universal health coverage, reducing the cost of medicines, supporting local production of drugs, building robust supply chains and promoting transparency and accountability in the pharmaceutical sector are critical.
This is about creating systems where everyone can benefit from life-saving medicines and related services regardless of geographical location or socioeconomic status.
Understanding the Criticality of Access to Life-Saving Healthcare
Enhancing the availability of life-saving healthcare improves lives, boosts well-being, and leads to healthier, happier societies.
The UN’s designation of access to medicine as a universal human right and its absorption into the Sustainable Development Goals indicate the need for ongoing action.
Life-saving healthcare, including medicine, is not a luxury – it’s a necessity, a human right – and its importance mustn’t be overstated.
By ensuring that all individuals are provided with the necessary medicines, societies around the world can improve overall health outcomes, reduce health inequality, boost well-being, and save lives.
Access To Life Saving Medicines With Masters
We pride ourselves on being a global pharmaceutical company with a vision to improve patients’ lives through access to life-saving medicines. Masters are pharmaceutical drug suppliers who have been supporting life science partners and healthcare providers all over the world for over 30 years.
As trusted pharmaceutical medicine suppliers our goal is to commercialise speciality life saving medicines in emerging markets, including Latin America and the Middle East. Why not get in touch today and discover how we can help you.