7 September 2022, Paro, Bhutan — IFPMA is delighted to be able to join this SEARO Regional Committee meeting and appreciates the opportunity to make this statement. The ongoing fight against COVID-19 has reminded us that those with chronic conditions and co-morbidities are often the most vulnerable and have suffered the most throughout the pandemic, and, in this context, we congratulate SEARO on keeping NCD-related issues high on the regional agenda. Weak health systems and the failures to adequately invest in NCD prevention and control are hampering our collective ability to proactively deal with health crises. The link between strong primary health care systems and resilience against any health emergency has never been clearer.
At a global level, IFPMA has been a strong voice in WHO’s Private Sector Dialogues on NCDs, discussing meaningful ways forward on how to improve access and affordability of NCD medicines and products within the diabetes and hypertension areas. Our industry is keen to play its part in developing fit-for-purpose solutions that can improve access to medicines especially for people living with NCDs in lower-resource settings, but this requires other stakeholders to also fulfil their responsibilities, whether it be in strengthening supply chains, reducing mark-ups, building workforce capacity, or improving health literacy.
Our wealth of experience in working to improve access has shown that reducing prices of our products alone will not achieve sufficiently significant outcomes. Newer, more innovative thinking is needed to tackle the complex challenges in NCDs. In this spirit, we joined the newly-launched Access to Oncology Medicines (ATOM) Consortium to work together with others to drive forward improved access to cancer medicines in some of the world’s poorest countries, some of which are in this region.
Looking ahead to 2025 and 2030, we remain concerned that achieving SDG 3.4 will be a tall order if we do not come together and ramp up our efforts on NCDs, and, in that respect, repeat previous messages that implementation of the best buys as well as significant improvements in sustainable financing will both be critical to this.
We continue to be a committed stakeholder in tackling NCDs and will carry on working with others to build access solutions and contribute towards stronger health systems, with the aim of improving the lives of people living with NCDs.
On future health emergencies, the innovative biopharmaceutical industry is keen to work collaboratively to ensure better preparedness. A strong innovation ecosystem, regulatory agility, and timely access to pathogens and genetic sequences data have been enablers to develop successful COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics. However, among the industry’s 10 lessons learned are the lessons that we need to ease export restrictions and ensure health systems and delivery infrastructures are strengthened. To achieve health equity, our industry tabled the Berlin Declaration, which proposes a collaborative solution for more equitable rollout of vaccines, treatments, and diagnostics for future pandemics.
We believe the private sector has been and remains a necessary and critical partner in addressing the gaps in response to NCDs, COVID-19, and other future health crisis.