In 1999, in the wake of Doctors Without Borders / Médecins Sans Frontières(MSF) being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, MSF launched 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.
© Brendan Bannon
From the start we faced two major challenges: the high cost of medicines current available and the absence of appropriate treatments for many of the diseases that affect patients in the areas where we work. That’s why we adopted a two track solution to the problem. On the one hand, we challenged the high costs of existing drugs – such as those to treat HIV/AIDS – and worked to bring prices down. On the other hand, we focused on stimulating research into new medicines for neglected diseases such as tuberculosis, sleeping sickness, kala azar and Chagas disease.
It turns out that solving the problems of both access and innovation are intertwined. And 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.