Our Perspective

      • Focusing on prices of HIV medicines in middle-income countries | Tenu Avafia & Katie Kirk

        27 Jun 2013

        image
        Low-income countries are often offered special arrangements by pharmaceutical companies on medicine to treat HIV. Middle-income countries are left out of these arrangements and must address the challenge of helping their citizens access the drugs. (Photo: UNDP)

        A key determinant of middle-income countries meeting their health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will be their ability to sustain and expand access to treatment for HIV and its co-infections, like TB and Hepatitis C. By 2020, the majority of people living with HIV will be living in middle-income countries, such as South Africa, Brazil, Russia, Ecuador and Thailand. Yet at the same time as new, more effective medicines to treat HIV emerge, many of these countries, based on their average income levels, are increasingly being left out of special arrangements offered by pharmaceutical companies to low-income countries, such as price discounts or voluntary licenses to use their patents. For instance, in 2011, using Global Fund grants, HIV medicine Darunavir was offered to Sub-Saharan African countries at US $1,095 per patient per year. Meanwhile, Nicaragua and Moldova (middle-income countries) had to buy that same medicine at $7,424 and $9,188 respectively. This pricing challenge will test the 2011 commitment made by UN Member States, at a UN High-level Meeting on AIDS , to place 15 million people in need on antiretroviral treatment by 2015. Eighteen middle-income countries and stakeholders met in Brasilia in June to confront these challenges. Whether discussing intellectual property, drugRead More

      • Sustainability must combine environmental concerns with poverty reduction | George Bouma

        12 Jun 2013

        image
        Addressing poverty-environment issues is essential for achieving sustainable development. Above, children in Rwanda. (Photo: PEI)

        With 2015 around the corner, one question dominates the global development agenda: what will replace the Millennium Development Goals? Twelve years on from the historic Millennium Declaration, indicators show that our failure to protect our environmental systems is undermining much of the progress that has been made in helping the world’s poorest communities. The stories from around the globe are all too familiar. Small-holder farmers in Tanzania have been suffering smaller yields as a result of soil degradation; communities in Bangladesh are struggling to cope with increasingly erratic weather conditions as a result of climate change; indigenous peoples in Latin America and South-East Asia are searching for alternative livelihoods where high levels of deforestation have robbed them of their principal economic assets. It is now clear that the post-2015 agenda must tackle the relationship between poverty and sustainability if it is to bring about long-lasting change. Efforts to bring the three strands of sustainable development (social, environmental and economic) into a single policy lens have a long history, dating back to the 1980s and ranging up to more recent Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers. Despite progress in many areas, such plans have struggled to bring about enduring and institutional change. Often, internationalRead More

      • A huge milestone in Zimbabwe’s recovery process

        03 Jun 2013

        image
        Consultation meeting on Zimbabwe’s constitution making, organized by the Constitution Parliamentary Select Committee (COPAC) in January 2011. The COPAC process culminated in the production of a draft constitution which was passed in the March referendum. Photo: UNDP Zimbabwe

        Over the past couple of years, there has been a lot of progress in Zimbabwe in terms of economic recovery, taming inflation and progress in the social sectors – with improvements in education and health. Accepted by a huge majority of the 3 million people who voted in the March referendum, Zimbabwe's new constitution is a huge milestone in this overall recovery process. The constitution is expected to provide the basis for the upcoming electoral process, which we hope will lead to the creation of a new government and usher Zimbabwe towards full recovery and development. The document is now slated to go to parliament where it will require two thirds of the vote to pass. The constitution-making process in Zimbabwe is one the major undertakings of the government formed in the wake of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), signed by the different political parties after the disputed elections of 2008.  The process of drafting the constitution was innovative in itself because it was people-driven. In the process of preparing the document, more than 5,000 meetings were held and close to one million people consulted, incorporating a wide spectrum of views into the text. Along the way, excellent opportunities were createdRead More