The talk was arguably broader than Africa, it was on access to essential medicines for children with cancer in the global context, recognising huge disparities in access there too between high and low and middle income countries and trying to tease out some of the differentiating features of childhood cancer in that space, recognising that access to medicines is very difficult in the context of adult cancers as well but trying to speak to how children are different in that regard, where there’s actually overlap and similarity and there could be benefit from engaging collaboratively with adult efforts to improve access and where there needs to be specific thought to how children are different and how to go about solving the problem differently.
So what criteria did you use?
I’m not sure there were any conclusions, it was trying to précis some of the ways that we’re trying to get better data on this issue because so far there has been very poor data on drug availability, drug costs across health systems etc. But some of the things that we were able to understand across the presentations was that we need to do drug forecasting quite a bit better than we’ve done it which would enable procurement, either at the institutional or national level, that actually responds to need so not just buying drugs without any sense of how much is needed or how much will sit on the shelf but actually trying to be efficient in that regard by having better data. Also the benefits that can come from collaboration, whether it be at the national level across institutions or regionally, to pool procurement, so to buy drugs all together to get costs down, to assure quality and to help with supply management of medicines in country. Many times there is huge price variability across health system contexts because all the health systems are buying separately and negotiating separately so the power of economies of scale that come with buying these drugs together and negotiating with industry together can be potentially huge. So that was one thing that was stressed in the session.