Affordable medicines called for

2015-06-18 06:00

AMID reports of medication shortages in the country, patient groups and health organisations in South Africa have started a campaign, in a bid to ensure that patients have access to affordable medicines.

The campaign, spearheaded by 12 health organisations, is aimed at pushing the government to urgently finalise a national policy on intellectual property that champions measures to reduce prices and increase access to a wide range of medicines for people in need across South Africa.

Senior researcher at Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) Lotti Rutter said organisations such as People Living with Cancer (PLWC), South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag), Diabetes SA, CanSurvive, the South African Federation for Mental Health (SAFMH), Stop Stock Outs, the Cancer Association of Southern Africa (CANSA), the Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder Alliance (SABDA), the South African Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance (SANCD Alliance), Marie Stopes, Epilepsy South Africa and Cape Mental Health have joined forces to ensure that there is affordable medication.

Rutti said: “The expanded coalition of organisations represents public and private sector patients in the country who are seeking treatment and care for a range of cancers, mental illnesses, diabetes and other non-communicable diseases as well as tuberculosis, HIV and sexual and reproductive health.

“Some cancer patients would rather go to other countries like India for treatment. The combined costs of the flights, medical services and drugs is cheaper than buying the drugs alone in South Africa,” said Bernice Lass from CanSurvive.

Magdalene Seguin from Cansa said the organisation is contacted regularly by patients who do not have access to medication due to high costs.

Rutter said that the Department of Trade and Industry has embarked on the process of legislative reform, releasing a draft policy which contains important commitments to reform the laws in order to restore the balance between public and private interest, in favour of peoples’ health. Following the adoption of a finalised policy by cabinet, bills to amend intellectual property legislation in South Africa will be brought before Parliament

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