The ability of patients to obtain and utilize the products they require, when and where they require them and with full confidence, is known as “access to medicine.”
The benchmarks used to determine the quality of such access are generally expressed as the 4As – Availability, Affordability, Adoption and Architecture*.
What is it that impedes access to medicine for the most impoverished classes in the world’s developing nations? High prices and the lack of suitable product development alone do not explain this problem. Many factors interact in a complex way to undermine access to medicine. These factors at the global national and regional level include weak national healthcare systems, underdeveloped insurance systems, physical and geographical obstacles to reaching hospitals and pharmacies, patents, and the circulation of inferior or counterfeit pharmaceuticals. Such issues are extremely challenging for individual nations or companies to resolve on their own. Solutions to these problems require collaboration among stakeholders in developed and developing nations to hammer out effective strategies.
* Frost LJ, Reich MR, Access: How Do Good Health Technologies Get to Poor People in Poor Countries? Cambridge: Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, distributed by Harvard University Press, 2008.