|Because action and reflexion are inextricably linked, Jean-Pierre Landau, Professor at the Institut des Etudes Politiques de Paris, and Philippe Bernagou, Director-General of the Pierre Fabre Foundation, studied the issues pertaining to this theme, at the foundation’s request.|
In “Access to Medication: policy priorities in poor countries”, both of them underline the main weaknesses of the current system and set the policy priorities to improve it.
Interview with Philippe Bernagou, Director-General of the Pierre Fabre Foundation and co-author of “Access to Medication: policy priorities in poor countries”
fondation Chirac: In collaboration with Jean-Pierre Landau, you describe the system of access to medication. What is the main flaw of this system in your opinion?
Philippe Bernagou: I would have to say the problem of inaccurate predictions. All too often, the personnel of health structures – public, private or religious ones– does not have the necessary training in order to assess the medication needs. Due to inaccurate predictions, inventory shortfalls and late or inadequate orders are, unfortunately, very common.
F.C: Would you say that the counterfeit medication market represents the second major obstacle to a sustainable access to health care?
P.B: Yes, and on this matter political will alone can make a difference. Take Benin, for example. There, the state has worked towards fighting counterfeit medication: modernisation of the National Laboratory for the Control of Medicines, restructuration of the Group Purchasing Organisation, strengthening of the School of Pharmacy…
F.C: With its experience on the field, the Pierre Fabre Foundation was able to identify the priority policies to pursue. Which seems most urgent to you?
P.B: TRAINING, without any doubt. It is the starting point of any policy. To supply good medication is not enough, if the populations do not know how to use them, and are not aware of the dangers related to counterfeit medicines. Similarly, if the prescribers and the technical personnel are not familiar with the use of the medicines, the fight against counterfeit medication will not have the expected results. It is, therefore, necessary to inform and train the population and health personnel.
F.C: Today, the system and its flaws have been analysed. How far has the policy come on a global scale?
P.B: As explains Michèle Barzach, President of Friends of the Global Fund, Europe (read the interview), international mobilisation has now reached a turning point. We know what we have to do, now we are taking action.
F.C: How can we make this formidable impetus as efficient as possible?
P.B: We must combine the policies of big organisations with those of smaller organisations in order to succeed in training populations on the field. The major funding providers, such as UNITAID or the Global Fund, can fund large-scale operations. However, in order to conduct them, they need the expertise and the intimate knowledge of the field of small organisations. This method will make it possible to simultaneously take action, as well as sustainably pass on the requisite skills.