Countries have access to affordable medicines for hypertension and other chronic diseases through the PAHO Strategic Fund


Washington, D.C., April 8 2013 (PAHO/WHO)—Countries in the Americas can save money and improve their access to medicines for hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer through the Revolving Fund for Strategic Public Health Supplies of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), known as the PAHO Strategic Fund.

"The objective is to help countries increase their access to medicines and assure these are of high quality and available at competitive prices, to help them deal with the chronic disease epidemic in the Americas," said James Fitzgerald, PAHO/WHO senior advisor on medicines and health technologies.

Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause of death in the Western Hemisphere. More than 200 million people in the Americas suffer from a noncommunicable disease, and many suffer from more than one, making NCD prevention, treatment, and care a major challenge for the region's countries.

As of April 2013, the list of products available through the Strategic Fund includes 16 essential medicines for hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer.

The expanded list of medicines is part of the implementation of the 2012-2025 Strategy to Prevent and Control Noncommunicable Diseases, approved in 2012 by PAHO/WHO Member States. The strategy seeks to reduce premature mortality from four main NCDs by at least 25% by 2025, as well as to reduce morbidity, risk factors, and their associated costs.

Spending on medicines accounts for as much as 35% of national health budgets in PAHO/WHO member countries. In some countries of the region, it represents between 50% and 60% of family health expenditures. In many countries, these medicines are out of reach for the majority of the population.

The Strategic Fund lets countries take advantage of economies of scale by pooling orders and negotiating better prices with manufacturers.
"Our aim is to make medicines more accessible for countries, health systems, and patients themselves," said Pedro Orduñez, PAHO/WHO advisor on chronic disease prevention and control.

Other medicines available through the Strategic Fund include antiretrovirals, antimalarials, anti-TB drugs, laboratory kits, and insecticides. The Strategic Fund has achieved reductions of up to 80% on the price of antiretrovirals.

Created by PAHO in 2000, the Strategic Fund promotes access to essential public health supplies of good quality in the Americas. Purchases are accompanied by technical support from the Pan American Health Organization in planning and programming.