PQMD Hosts Forum on Global Aid and Access for Health
The 2017 PQMD Forum on Global Aid and Access for Health, held April 3-6 in London, enabled partners and stakeholders to come together and discuss global access to medicine and health care, long-term investments in disease eradication, and the imperatives of pandemic preparedness. PQMD members, private sector and NGO representatives, along with global agency leaders, gathered to address issues relevant to access to global health and aid, and the many challenges and opportunities faced by the broad cross-section of participants. The forum, sponsored by Henry Schein and facilitated by PQMD, was made possible through additional support from PQMD members AbbVie, BD, , GSK, Pfizer, and Sanofi.
Forum guests attended panels focused on access to medicine, disaster resiliency, and disease elimination. Within these panels, forum attendees discussed the Access to Medicines Index (ATMI), pandemic preparedness, the Syrian conflict and refugee crisis, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), donation efforts, and additional health topics facing the global drug, device, and service donations community. Forum discussions focused on accountability, partnerships, preparedness and engagement as key steps in ensuring global access to health.
Over the course of the two-day forum, key themes emerged as panelists and participants created a dialogue on strategies and solutions for multi-sector engagement, partnership development, and key success factors in addressing the role of donations in health and humanitarian crisis situations. Key takeaway themes critical to ensuring global and coordinated aid and access to health included: accountability, partnerships, preparedness, and engagement.
Two accountability measures – the Access to Medicines Index (ATMI) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—were topics of forum discussions. ATMI is a platform of information using examples to understand how work can be done. ATMI, according to keynote speaker Jayasree Iyer, Executive Director of Access to Medicine Foundation, is utilized to incentivize pharmaceutical companies to improve access to medicine in low and middle income countries. The ATMI model is used to build consensus on what to expect from the industry and where incentives and disincentives exist. They create competition on targets and topics, and share best practices, information and new insights that inspire and drive change. The Index is used to track and show progress and provide guidance from the experience and good work of the pharma industry.
Following Iyer’s keynote address, pharmaceutical and NGO representatives shared their experiences in finding new and innovative ways to reach communities and underserved populations. Much of the discussion focused on successful partnerships between pharmaceutical companies and NGOs and the impact of reaching communities on local levels. According to Iyer, partnerships are necessary for good ATMI standings because of the opportunity partnerships provide to share best practices. Continuing collaboration and partnerships, discussed at length during the forum, will ensure continued access to medicine.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were also recognized as key accountability tools. In particular, SDG #3 (Good Health and Well Being) was highlighted at a panel titled “Access to Medicine and the SDG’s”. The panel members discussed the role of SDG as an accountability tool and universal healthcare as the inherent philosophy of SDG #3 – all people should receive health services they need without suffering financial hardship. SDG #3 is holistic and not limited to low income countries. While the supply chain is an important part of achieving SDG #3, panel attendees discussed identifying priorities of countries, educating consumers, engaging governments, making proper diagnoses and prescribing proper medicines as part of the strategy to achieve SDG #. Three additional SDGs crucial to meeting the goals of SDG #3 were SDG #9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure), SDG #16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions) and SDG #17 (Partnerships for the Goals).
Partnerships, a key theme throughout the forum, are highly valued in the ATM Index, Iyer said in the Access to Medicines panel. Companies recognize the need to work with partners to reach populations not reached before. In the “Mainstreaming Disaster Risk into Operational Risk” plenary session, Stefano Scuratti of The Economist Intelligence Unit said partnerships allow for leveraging of resources, thereby improving impact. Collaboration builds trust between partners, something PQMD exemplifies and practices as a core value ot the organization.
An in-depth discussion of the crisis in Syria, “Learning from Syria: Health, Crisis, Conflict and Displacement”, touched on the forum’s focus on partnerships. With the crisis entering its7th year, the complicated situation involves many barriers, governments and actors. Seven million people have been displaced thus far, to access for humanitarian aid has been complex and limited. Humanitarian assistance has run aground with no obvious solution from the international community to this crisis. Panel members stressed the importance of working with local partners and forging partnerships with different groups. Governments may not be able to do their work in times of crisis and provide basic needs, so organizations, both public and private, internal and external, must work with civil society, faith-based organizations and all those working in the community and on the ground. The key is engagement with partnerships and a different way of thinking. If there is no access to the people, financial contributions are not enough, panelists said. Despite the dire situation, panel attendees emphasized there have been some improvements in Syria, so it is crucial to continue to build on the successes and resist any sense of hopelessness.
The importance of preparedness was addressed in two sessions; an Executive Forum titled “Pandemic Preparedness and Global Engagement”, and a panel discussion group. During the executive forum, Henry Schein CEO Stanley Bergman discussed efforts underway to better understand the complexities of past and future crises, and the role both Henry Schein and others can play in forecasting for such future needs. Panel discussion group attendees discussed the lack of funding for preparedness due to the difficulty in quantifying the importance of countries being prepared. They discussed the need to convey the need to address “wicked problems,” as Jeff Sturchio, CEO of Rabin Martin conveyed, in a manner that does not confuse the decision makers or the multi-sector community with whom they are engaging. While current technology exists for detecting outbreaks and other crisis, it is still a challenge to gain manufacturers’ attention. Panelists urged further discussion on research and development options and opportunities.
Access to medicine and disease elimination can only be achieved with action from engaged parties. Several panel discussion groups outlined this need for action. In “What Does It Take”, panelists from pharmaceutical companies, NGOs and global agencies discussed the decision processes necessary for an organization to embark on a prevention and eradication efforts including resources and policies necessary to implement targeted a program. Forum themes of partnership and accountability were discussed as panelists shared anecdotes about successful current partnerships and how metrics are used to measure success and develop goals. Further discussion is planned on how organizations direct resources to support overall health systems once eradication of a specific disease in a country is achieved.
Developing a donation action plan was the focus of the panels “How Does a Company Decide to Take on an Elimination Effort?” and “To Donate or Not to Donate…. That is the Question.” In the former panel, discussion centered on the unique challenges and issues surrounding elimination efforts. The role of corporate leadership in making the decision was led by panelists from global pharmaceutical companies. Developing partnerships was again a key success factor, and panelists discussed how plans might adapt and evolve during an elimination effort. Initial factors found to be critical to long term success were highlighted.
In “To Donate or Not to Donate…That is the Question”, the opportunity for employee engagement in a donation effort was discussed. Senior management participation in volunteerism sets an example for good employee engagement, and panelists from the private sector discussed the role of corporate social responsibility and the circumstances that motivate companies to act on a donation. The challenges of sustainability of donations and future innovations were issues discussed in the panel.
The PQMD Forum on Global Aid and Access for Health provided robust discussion on the issues and challenges affecting global access to medicines, disease elimination and pandemic preparedness. The need and value of mature and dynamic partnerships were a recurring theme throughout the forum. Preparedness, accountability and engagement were also key takeaways. The forum outcome was a comprehensive discussion on the role of drug, device and health system support donations in the global policy environment. PQMD and its’ members had the opportunity to initiate a dialogue with global health thought-leaders to define and refine our strategic priorities going forward. While PQMD has some 20 years of experience working collaboratively on global aid and access issues, the Forum emphasized the continued need for guidelines and standards to ensure that the global community can be assured of the quality and efficacy of products being donated worldwide. Additionally, it was clear that combining the power and experience of a private sector, public sector and NGO response to any global crisis or humanitarian disaster is the only way to ensure safe and sustainable access to healthcare for the most vulnerable populations around the world.
To access a full program for the 2017 Forum, including panelists and speakers, please click here.