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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Access to Medicines Summit 2024: Building Bridges to Build a Blueprint for Collaborative and Innovative Access to Medicines for a Future of Equitable Healthcare

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−      The summit convened more than 100 key stakeholders and 32 influential speakers from government sectors, private entities, academia, and medical advocacy groups across the region.

−      The summit aimed to showcase successful efforts in improving access to medicines, foster collaboration opportunities, initiate the development of a roadmap for stronger access to medicines through collaborative health innovations, and advocated for policy changes and reforms to promote unbiased access to medicines across the region.

−      The summit will catalyze commitment, policy advocacy guidelines and collective action towards transforming medicines accessibility across the region, ensuring that no one is left behind.

In a world where 30% of the global population lacks regular access to essential medicines, the need for change is urgent.[i] Nowhere is this challenge more pronounced than in Southeast Asia, where individuals grapple with untreated illnesses due to limited access to medical care. It’s a stark reality that cannot be ignored.

Imagine the power of government agencies, pharmaceutical companies, healthcare providers, researchers, NGOs, and patient advocacy groups coming together, united by a common goal: to improve the lives of millions by making essential medicines accessible to all.

This holistic and inclusive approach is the key to transforming the landscape of healthcare in Southeast Asia. The Access to Medicines Summit 2024, held on February 6 and 7, 2024, at the Diamond Hotel Manila, Philippines, showcased a groundbreaking display of unity and determination for this cause.

With the theme “Building Bridges. A Blueprint for Collaborative and Innovative Access to Medicines” this summit brought together the like-minded stakeholders and practices from across Southeast Asia to tackle the pressing issue of equitable access to medicines.

The summit focused on four key objectives. Firstly, it highlighted successful efforts of organizations in improving access to medicines, serving as examples for others to learn from. Secondly, it fostered collaboration opportunities, promoting collective impact in enhancing access to medicines.

Thirdly, it initiated the development of a roadmap for stronger access to medicines through collaborative health innovations. Lastly, it advocated for policy changes and reforms to promote unbiased access to medicines across the region.

The Access to Medicines Summit 2024 witnessed the participation of more than 100 key stakeholders from the Philippines Department of Health, local government units, academia, healthcare industry, patient support groups, financial institutions, and medical societies.

The summit also featured 32 influential speakers from various sectors and countries such as Malaysia and Vietnam, who shared their expertise and commitment to shaping thoughts and driving change across Southeast Asia.

Organized by Takeda Healthcare Philippines Inc. and RiseAboveNow Business Consulting Group, the summit commenced with a powerful keynote address from Dr. Teodoro J. Herbosa, Secretary of the Department of Health. His recorded message resonated with urgency, setting the tone for the summit’s discussions and initiatives.

“I challenge us to formulate more transformative interventions that will provide better access to medicines especially (to) the vulnerable and poorest population. Utilize this summit to discuss and ask the hard questions,” he said. 

“Today’s activities contribute to the ultimate fulfilment of Universal Healthcare where health equity is one of its guiding principles. Let’s continue to forge ahead with determination, innovation and compassion ensuring that no one is left behind in our pursuit for a healthier, more equitable society,” declared Health Secretary Dr. Teodoro J. Herbosa in his powerful speech.

Dr. Enrique A. Tayag, Undersecretary of Public Health and Cluster Lead of Public Health Services at the Department of Health, Philippines, led the first plenary session at the summit. He presented the 8-Point Action Agenda established by the Department of Health Philippines to improve the health of Filipinos.

The session also featured discussions and presentations by other experts discussing the root causes of health disparities and strategies to improve access to medicines and patient care.

The day continued with Plenary Session Two, featuring speakers who shared initiatives and practical insights to empower attendees in their efforts to improve access to medicines. 

Michelle Erwee, Global Head of Access to Medicines, Growth and Emerging Markets at Takeda, provided a global perspective on Takeda’s initiatives, shedding light on the company’s commitment to addressing this critical issue.

Daisy Cembrano, Healthcare Policy Director from the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP), offered valuable insights into the efforts being made by its member companies to improve access to medicines in the Philippines.

Meanwhile, the Honorable Mayor Benjamin Magalong of Baguio City shared the city’s commitment to addressing this important issue at the local level.

Erwee, acknowledging the need for collective efforts, said “No single organization or group can fix all the problems that cause unequal access to medicines. As a leading biopharmaceutical company, we understand that we can help by making our medicines and vaccines more accessible to patients. This not only improves people’s lives but is also essential to long- term sustainable business growth.”

The final session of the day showcased research and development programs, demonstrating commitment to address unmet medical needs and access to innovative therapies. Participants engaged in discussions, strategizing ways to fortify healthcare infrastructure, establish sustainable supply chains, and strengthen healthcare systems in resource-limited settings.

In summary, day one confronted the complexities of regulatory frameworks and navigated the delicate balance between incentivizing innovation and ensuring affordable access to medicines.

Day two of the summit will commence with the inauguration of the exhibition booths, marking the Opening Ceremonies for the Collaboration Hub. This hub serves as a platform for various exhibitors who are all working towards the common goal of advancing healthcare and improving access to medicines.

Notable exhibitors include AVPN Asia, Cancer Coalition Philippines, Healthy Philippines Alliance, Hemophilia Advocates – Philippines, MedProjects Healthcare IT Solutions, Philippine Society of Pharmacists Vaccinators, Pilipinas Shell Foundation with their PROTECT Project, PASYENTE Project from the University of the Philippines, the Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association of the Philippines and Takeda Healthcare Philippines Inc.

These exhibitors represent a wide range of causes, including social investing, cancer advocacy, healthcare technology, corporate contributions, academic endeavors, and industry insights.

Closing the summit through two distinct breakout sessions, participants discuss the next steps in crafting a blueprint and policy advocacy guidelines that will empower both public and private entities throughout Southeast Asia to overcome the challenges hindering access to medicines. These blueprints have the potential to transform the approach to medicines accessibility across the region, so no one is left behind.

The Access to Medicines Summit 2024 impact is expected to extend far beyond its conclusion, as participants carry forward the shared vision of a future where access to life-saving medicines is a reality for all.


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