Blog

Why the VIG Code of Conduct fails to put health first

Robin Veenman (former research intern at Wemos and Pharmaceutical Accountability Foundation & master student Political Science at the University of Amsterdam)

Earlier this year, the Association Innovative Medicines (or Vereniging Innovatieve Geneesmiddelen – VIG – the industry association for the Dutch branches of innovative pharmaceutical companies) published its new code of conduct. Unfortunately, in a time when high medicine prices are a pressing societal problem, the code omits any mentioning of the pharmaceutical industry’s pricing policy. For my research at Wemos and Pharmaceutical Accountability Foundation, I aimed to find out why, and came to the conclusion that the code is a symptom of a neoliberal system within the pharmaceutical industry, guided by profit maximisation instead of public health.

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Healthcare: a vital profession

Human resources for Health team

It is striking what a crisis such as the COVID-19 outbreak can bring about. Five years ago, budget cuts severely restricted funding for long-term care, home care and youth care in the Netherlands. Many care organisations went bankrupt and 80,000 care workers lost their jobs. Then the economy started booming again and budget was made available to expand the health workforce.

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Don’t underestimate the gap!

Mariëlle Bemelmans

As the Covid-19 was starting to make its way around the world, just having started in China and the first cases appearing in Thailand, there never was a better time to speak about universal health coverage (UHC) and how to accelerate progress towards achieving this everywhere in the world. The Prince Mahidol Award Conference (PMAC), an annual global gathering focusing on policy-related health issues that took place in Bangkok on Jan 28-Feb 2, facilitated this discussion, focussing on ‘Accelerating Progress Towards Universal Health Coverage’. Director Mariëlle Bemelmans was invited to participate as a panellist in the session ‘Making and Using (Fiscal) Space for UHC’. In her blog she tells about her experience and our ideas on how fiscal space should be used to bridge the still very large funding gap for achieving the world-wide health targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

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The answer to pandemics? Strong public health systems

Finance for Health team

Covid-19 demands a rapid response, while investing in public health systems is as important as ever. International financial institutions like the World Bank therefore need to see these uncertain times as the prime opportunity to take measures aimed at social protection, strong public services, decent work, tax justice, and progressive financing of social sectors – thereby strengthening health systems. Because after all this, we cannot go back to business as usual.

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Worldwide access to Covid-19 vaccine

Tom Buis

A Global Covid-19 Patent Pool could be the solution

Researchers around the world are trying to develop treatments and vaccines against the new Covid-19 virus. This requires huge amounts of public and private funding and cooperation amongst many different organizations. Two potential risks may prevent everyone from accessing the vaccine. Firstly, the lack of sufficient production facilities worldwide. Second, patents on a new vaccine would push up prices, hindering governments from providing them to the public. Costa Rica wants to tackle both issues with a global Covid-19 Patent Pool and has asked the WHO for support.

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Is blended finance the key to health and development?

Barbara Fienieg

How can we better align our spending and finance with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS)? This was one of the central questions at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) third high-level annual conference ‘Private Finance for Sustainable Development’, held in Paris on January 29th 2020. On January 28th, I participated as a panelist in an expert discussion on blended finance in the health sector preceding this conference.

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The warm heart of Africa

Valeria Huisman

Looking down from the plane, I see a vast green landscape. A house here and there, and beautiful mountains in the background. It is my first glance of “the warm heart of Africa” as Malawi is affectionately called. I feel excited. In the days ahead I will visit health facilities and talk to nurses, midwives and other health workers, to hear about their experiences first hand. As Wemos’ communication manager I of course know of the challenges in the Malawian health system; the facts, numbers, and graphs, all leaning to the wrong side of the balance. But, being there, seeing, hearing, sensing the personal stories; it will make a big impact on me.

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The 2019 wins for the access to medicines movement

Tom Buis

2019 was an exciting year for those who work in the field of pharmaceutical policy. The topic of access to medicines is climbing higher on the political agenda. Not just in the Netherlands – where this topic has already been one of the political priorities for quite some time – but also in the EU and at the World Health Organization (WHO). With all this attention for pharmaceutical policies, the global access to medicines movement will have the opportunity to make 2020 a game-changing year.

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How do we license publicly funded medicines so that it will benefit the public?

Winne van Woerden

Cases of soaring drug prices are frequently reaching the news lately. The current system of medicine development does not achieve what it was intended for: to provide equitable access to affordable and effective medicines for the patients that need them. Publicly funded research institutions can be of major influence in changing this – but how? On November 5th, Wemos, Health Action International and Utrecht University organized the event ‘Licensing publicly generated knowledge: seeking a socially sustainable balance’ to have a meaningful discussion on the role of publicly funded research institutions in changing the current system of medicine development.

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ARE UHC KIDDING ME? 5 ALTERNATIVES TO EQUITABLY FUND HEALTH FOR ALL

Renée de Jong

While Universal Health Coverage (UHC) as initiated by the World Health Organization is a promising concept, I remain critical about the current ambitions in the declaration of the High-Level Meeting on UHC at the United Nations Headquarters in September. The vision is there, but what intrigues me, is what remains unsaid. In this era where global inequalities are bigger than ever[1], I believe it is time to do some thinking outside of the box on how we will fund our healthcare.

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