Tuesday, March 25, 2008

HAIN Takes Lead in Advocacy on Rational Drug Use and Medicine Pricing

The Philippines ranked second to Japan as having the highest medicine prices in Asia. Filipinos spent for medicines the equivalent of $1 billion a year, from 1997 to 2001, the highest in Asean, notwithstanding that half of the Philippines' 80 million population have no access to essential medicines. The cost of medicines here is 40 percent to 70 percent higher than in other Asean countries. For Filipinos who have access to medicines, their budget for total health-related expenses (not just medicines) is a measly P2, 000.00/person/year.(1)

With this alarming backdrop, the Health Action International (HAI), a global network working on issues related to access to medicine and their rational use in collaboration with the Health Action Information Network (HAIN) conducted an advocacy planning workshop last February 12-14, 2008 at the Fersal Place Hotel, Quezon City. The three-day event covered lecture presentations on medicine pricing, overview on the salient provisions of Cheaper Medicine Act of 2007, Government’s intervention and NGOs sharing of experiences and advocacy work. It was attended by 28 Metro Manila representatives and 3 regional participants from various organizations (non-government organizations, academe and people’s organization) that gathered for discussions and workshop sessions on current concerns, developments and advocacy on affordability, availability and safety of drugs in the Philippines

As a result, HAIN was appointed as the secretariat and proposed with the following activities for the year:

* Information dissemination and education to stakeholders and sectors regarding access to medicine as basic human rights
* Institutional strengthening or organizational capacity in conducting advocacy and campaigns
* Giving awards as part of incentives for model programs that will serve as inspiration for the generics campaign.
* Strengthening network and mobilization groups to lobby Cheaper Medicine Bill, Amendments on Generics Act and related issues
* Lobby for rational drug use at the LGU level, specifically functional therapeutic committees or its equivalent
* Special project: Compendum Generics List

(1) Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer, December 19, 2007

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