Essential medicines and health products

WHO-Health Action International (HAI) regional collaboration for Action on Essential Medicines in Africa

WHO-HAI pricing surveys

The WHO-HAI Africa Collaboration has been instrumental in facilitating the completion of pharmaceutical pricing surveys, which are critical to achieving the fair financing and affordability aims of an essential medicines strategy. For example, the survey process uncovered that prices in participant countries were lower in the public sector, but availability was often poor, thus forcing patients to resort to the more expensive private sector. Improved transparency of medicine pricing methodology, in addition to supporting evidence-based policy making, has lead to important knowledge sharing and strategizing across the public, private and non-profit sectors. The price surveys followed an original methodology developed jointly by WHO and HAI to assess the relative affordability of a basket of drugs against a standard measure of income, as well as the relative availability of medicines in the three sectors.

Pricing survey leads to lower taxes

The information discovered by the pricing surveys has led to more effective advocacy work and collaborative policy making within the Country Working Groups, which together has brought about changes to medicines access that have a tangible impact on the lives of people. For example, the 2004 pricing survey for Ghana demonstrated that import duties and taxes such as VAT could contribute to up to 40% of consumer prices in that country. Through the described information and support mechanisms of the collaboration, the government of Ghana has agreed to refrain from increasing the tax burden on essential medicines and raw materials and to protect 66 products from all duties and taxes. Several countries are now conducting regular monitoring of medicines prices.