In 1999, in the wake of Doctors Without Borders / Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, MSF launched the Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines, since renamed the Access Campaign. Its purpose has been to push for access to, and the development of life-saving and life prolonging medicines, diagnostic tests and vaccines for patients in MSF programmes and beyond.
From the start, we have faced two major challenges: the high cost of medicines currently available and the absence of appropriate treatments for many of the diseases that affect patients in the areas where we work. On the one hand, we challenge the high costs of existing drugs – such as those to treat HIV/AIDS – and work to bring prices down. On the other hand, we focus on stimulating research into new medicines for neglected diseases such as tuberculosis, sleeping sickness, kala azar and chagas disease.
It turns out that both access and innovation are intertwined. While there have been remarkable advances on both fronts, formidable tasks remain ahead, both to address existing challenges and to meet new ones. That’s why MSF is pursuing its campaign as vigorously as ever.