Access to Medicines: Discussing Africa on Parliament Hill (part 3 of 3)

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This is Part 3 of 3 blogs written by our guest blogger, David Talbot, Director, International Government Affairs with Eli Lilly.

Dr. Evan Lee, VP, Global Health Programs and Access for Eli Lilly came to Ottawa at the invitation of Rx&D President Russell Williams. The visit to Ottawa was intended to educate, inform and engage policy makers and members of the African diplomatic community.

My last blogs looked at Lilly's Multi-Drug Resistance Tuberculosis (MDR-TB) Partnership and the barriers to accessing medicines faced by patients in Africa and other developing countries.

Today I'm looking at why Canada should be concerned about MDR-TB in these countries that are so distant geographically from Canada as well as digging a little further into the discussions that took place around the Lilly Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) Partnership.

First up, the answer to the question of why to engage in this work.

Not only is it the right thing to do for companies like Lilly, but also because drug resistant diseases of any kind, but particularly those that are highly contagious like TB, impact populations across borders.

In a highly mobile and globalized world people travel widely and often work or relocate in other countries and the potential for increased outbreaks pose dangers to us all, including here in Canada.

Preventing the spread of these diseases early is imperative to us all.

The other program discussed was the Lilly Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) partnership. Also known as chronic diseases this program focuses on cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer and chronic respiratory diseases.

And looking just at diabetes, the International Diabetes Federation estimates almost two million people in South Africa alone have diabetes.

Challenges to treatment include building trust between partners and patients, building expertise and capacity links within these countries.

This video talks about some of these issues and solutions being brought to the table:

Zimbabwean Ambassador Florence Chideya agreed that capacity challenges relating to health diagnostics and patient support are significant and require the kind of partnerships that programs like the Lilly Global Health Innovation Campaign provide.

It was an invigorating day on Parliament Hill in Ottawa and I think that Parliamentarians and African Ambassadors came away with a better understanding of the challenges as well as the opportunities in getting badly needed medications to those who need them the most. Lilly, through Dr. Evan Lee's work are doing what we can, but efforts from multiple partners will continue to be required to really make these programs a success.