MSF's wish list for the New Year

Another world is possible

2020 © Vivian Peng

Over the past extraordinary year, we were all touched by one of the greatest global health emergencies in decades. 

We are indeed now "all in this together"—and we need to work together to find solutions. We must develop and share the fruits of scientific progress in a fair and effective way to tame the COVID-19 pandemic. The lessons we learn will also enable us to overcome other diseases that blight the lives of millions of people around the world.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) will continue to call for better ways to answer urgent health needs. We will continue to call for change that puts people over profit. We hope that you will join us. 

Here are five wishes we have for the New Year to help build a new and fairer world where people can access the lifesaving medicines they need, wherever they live.

WISH #1: Everyone enjoys the fruits of scientific progress 

Today nearly two billion people don’t have access to the medicines they need to stay healthy. A major reason is the high price of medicines. We need a world where medicines are developed with the primary aim of meeting people’s health needs wherever they live—and not just to make the most profit!

WISH #2: Everyone shares knowledge for the common benefit 

Today pharmaceutical corporations and other institutions lock up their knowledge and don’t allow others to use their data and know-how. This wastes opportunities for transferring knowledge to companies around the world to make medical products more affordable and available. We need a world where data and science are shared openly to enable greater production of drugs, tests, and vaccines.

WISH #3: Everyone is open about the true costs of new medicines

Pharmaceutical companies often try to justify the high cost of medicines based on the amount they say they have to invest in developing a drug. However, they don’t open the books to disclose the actual amounts spent—and we know that many pharmaceutical companies spend more on marketing their products than on developing them.  

We need a world where companies are transparent about their actual costs and investments so that we can get fair prices for medicines.

WISH #4: Everyone attaches strings to research funding

Billions of dollars of public and private funding are poured into the development of new medicines every year. But the money doesn’t come with any conditions attached to ensure that the final products—medicines or vaccines or medical devices—reach the people who need them.

We need a world where funding for the development of medicines comes with strings attached to ensure fair access for everyone.

WISH #5: Everyone works together to solve problems

Today, decisions about people’s health around the world are largely made by a small group of people in rich countries. We need to bring everyone to the table to solve global problems: the governments of low- and middle-income countries, members of civil society, and people directly impacted by disease. We need a world where people are involved in decisions about how to address their own health needs—including through the development of new medicines and vaccines.