MDG 8: develop a global partnership for development

Reviewed December 2014

Target 8E. In cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, provide access to affordable essential medicines in developing countries
An open hand holding a variety of pills

Although nearly all countries publish an essential medicines list, the availability of medicines at public-health facilities is often poor. Surveys conducted in over 50 low- and middle-income countries indicate that the availability of selected generic medicines at health facilities was only 38% in the public sector and 64% in the private sector. Lack of medicines in the public sector forces patients to purchase medicines privately.

In the private sector, generic medicines cost on average six times more than their international reference price, while originator brands are generally even more expensive. High prices often make medicines unaffordable, with common treatments costing the lowest paid government worker several days' wages.

WHO's activities
  • WHO has developed global indicators for availability, price and affordability of essential medicines.
  • WHO/Health Action International pricing survey methodology used in over 50 countries has increased awareness of the pricing, affordability and availability of branded and generic medicines in the public and private sectors.
  • WHO provides pharmaceutical manufacturers with the information they need to produce quality, safe, effective essential medicines to address leading public health concerns.
  • WHO offers essential capacity building and quality assurance monitoring for over 250 medicines to treat millions of patients with HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, and with reproductive health needs in developing countries.

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