Health Equity - drugs and more
(Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)

Health Equity - drugs and more

Health equity is a key sustainability theme that has solutions and drivers across all industries, not just pharmaceuticals. Why? Because disparities are not only a function of access to health care but also other factors including socioeconomics, the environment, race and gender.

Summary: Health equity is an important sustainability theme. We discuss what it actually is, why we care about health equity, the social determinants of health, Big Pharma's role, and health access including value-based pricing and innovations for remote locations.

Why this is important: Disparities are not only a function of access to health care but also other factors including socioeconomics, the environment, race and gender. Health equity considers starting points and is focuses more on outcomes of health rather than the inputs of the service provision.

The big theme: Health equity is a cross-cutting theme that has its solutions and drivers across all industries, not just pharmaceuticals. It is about providing the ability for people to attain the highest attainable standard of health regardless of their starting point. It is about equity and it is about social justice. To meet all of the sustainable development goals will require solutions that address environmental, social and economic problems. But the benefits will also be felt across all of those areas.



The details


In the 1980s in many towns and villages in a number of African countries including Mali, Sudan, Ethiopia and Uganda, it was assumed that by the time you were in your mid-teens you had itchy skin, started losing your sight and were likely blind by the age of 30. Of course life wasn't like that everywhere, but in those particular towns and villages they were blighted by a parasitic worm spread by the Simulium blackfly that breeds in rapidly flowing streams. The infection that the parasite caused is onchoceriasis or, as it is better known, 'river blindness'.

More than 99% of people infected with onchocerciasis live in 31 African countries although it is also present in Venezuela and in some parts of Brazil as well as Yemen. Historically it was controlled or at least attempted to be controlled by insecticides to kill the blackfly and stop it spreading the parasite.

The terrible bargain for sufferers was between blindness or hunger. The fertile lands near the fast flowing streams offered greater crop yields but also had greater numbers of blackfly.

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