As we start the new year, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) looks forward to new opportunities to ensure affordable access to medical innovation for everyone. The MSF Access Campaign is pushing for our teams to have the tools they need to provide the best medical care for people served by our projects around the world and to help pave the way for wider access to medicines, vaccines, and tests.
When MSF received the Nobel Peace Prize back in 1999, our international president Dr. James Orbinski called for "change not charity." We used the prize to set up the MSF Access Campaign to help make lifesaving medicines accessible to all people in need, regardless of where they live.
This wish list highlights some of the Access Campaign's top priorities for 2019, and also celebrates a milestone achievement.
WISH #1: Game-changer TB drug for $1 a day
People living with drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) continue to undergo lengthy and often toxic treatment to beat the disease. Today there are better, safer, and more effective TB drugs available, but they are priced too high for most people who need them. In 2019, we’ll continue to call on pharmaceutical companies to lower the prices, so that many more people living with drug-resistant TB can access the treatment they need.
WISH #2: HIV treatment for children
Children with HIV are being left behind in the antiretroviral treatment revolution because pediatric versions of HIV medicines don’t exist, are priced out of reach, or haven’t been registered in all countries that need them. Worldwide, only about half of HIV-positive children receive treatment. We're urging drug companies to stop dragging their feet and help save more young lives.
WISH #3: Ebola vaccine and treatment
As Ebola strikes again in Democratic Republic of Congo, a vaccine is being used for the first time to protect people. So far, MSF teams have vaccinated 2,000 frontline health workers against this highly infectious virus as part of our efforts to contain the epidemic. But we need more tools—including medicines as well as vaccines—to be developed, tested, and licensed.
WISH #4: The right antibiotics to fight superbugs
MSF doctors come across a growing number of people with infections that are resistant to the antibiotics currently available. Antibiotic resistance is a global problem, and we need new antibiotics developed to address this challenge. We also need better ways to diagnose serious infections and to ensure more careful use of the precious drugs we have that are still effective.
WISH #5: Affordable quality antivenom against all African snakebites
Snakebite inflicts terrible harm on people who can't get effective and affordable antivenoms. To help reduce this suffering, we want to see more antivenoms developed that will be both affordable and effective against all types of African venomous snakes.
As 2018 came to a close, we welcomed the arrival of a new, simple, oral treatment for people with sleeping sickness, thanks to the hard work of colleagues at the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), a non-profit drug research and development organization co-founded by MSF. Twenty years ago MSF doctors needed to inject potentially lethal arsenic-based treatments to help save the lives of people with sleeping sickness. Now, we have a simple pill course that will cure the disease!