According to the World Health Organization, essential medicines can be described as the ones that satisfy the health care requirements of the majority of the populace. Research shows that an estimate of more than a third of the peoples' population worldwide has no access to these essentials medications. Moreover, it is noted that the number is higher in Asian and African where the estimate is about half the individuals in such regions. In this case, the access is termed as a continuous availability of these essential medicines in private or public health facilities as well as in medicine outlets at an affordable price and that they can be reached within an hours walk. Consequently, measures need to be implemented to improve the accessibility of people to these essential medicines more so in the developing countries of Africa and Asia. Means to solve such an issue can be achieved by directing responsibilities to the individuals, companies, and the governments.
The government has the duty to ensure a smooth transition exists between the stages of clinical research up to when public health is implemented. Unavailability of essential medicines may be attributed to inadequate financing, procuring expensive products and short chain on supply and distribution (Groenhout, 2016, p.13-16). Governments in developing countries require the pharmaceutical companies to reduce drug prices as well as increasing local production to aid accessibility. However, the government has failed to develop the needed infrastructure for distribution and delivery purposes. In that regard it should have a budgetary responsibility, thus having accessibility to these drugs would be a moral value to its citizens.
Human right signatory treaties bind the government with a significant role to promote development and health with accessibility to essential drugs. Health issues that are taken to court have been addressed negatively with little civil liberties. The court has an obligation to ensure there is adequate treatment access or resources to boost the well-being of its citizens. For instance, in South African constitution, the bill of rights states that everyone has a right to medical treatment under emergency cases (WHO, 2016, pp. 4-8). This bill encompasses access to chronic illness treatment to prolong a life which includes essential medicines. However, in 2001, the government refused to avail nevirapine, an antiretroviral drug, to the sector of public health. The government also failed to set a national program time-frame which was aimed at preventing HIV transmission from mother to child. In summation, the government has a duty to ensure the drugs are available and affordable by reducing prices and improving distribution and delivery infrastructure (Gov, 2015).
The Pharmaceutical Industry
Pharmaceutical companies are responsible for manufacturing drugs that are used by the society. The companies also rely on facilities of the community such as laboratories for research in Universities which helps them come up with such ideas of drug preparation. It is, therefore, confident that companies may not have absolute rights over their products. Globally, patent laws for drugs have failed to ensure patent rights are permanently enforced because it is after 20 years when a pharmaceutical company legitimately produces cheap generic drug versions. A period of 20 years is long considering the fact that need for medication is high, and drugs are likely to become ineffective due to infectious disease strains such tuberculosis which become resistant to drugs. Pharmaceutical industry bears a special knowledge centrally and directly on the well-being of human. Such knowledge is the work other people who relied on research and training that were funded by the public (Canning, 2011, p. 20-24). Also, such skills have been made publicly available and free. Thus, the industry has a moral responsibility to use its knowledge of means and ways that are intended to benefit the society.
Additionally, the Pharmaceutical companies are private and thus are obliged to the shareholders. In developing countries these companies make lower profits since the majority cannot afford such drugs as compared to the developed countries. The companies should, therefore, not ignore constraints which are associated with the common human decency. There is a need to invoke the corporate principle of the social responsibility to enable the industry to improve access to its drugs to the society. Allowing access to medications for the poor people living in the developing countries makes a greater responsibility morally (The Pharmaceutical Journal, 2014).
Companies also need to ensure affordability of drugs to people more so in developing countries. However, the fact that drugs are generic off-patent compounds, the many factors including the patent law that affect the pricing of medications and that cost is just one among many factors that influence accessibility to medication shows that patent laws alone in developing countries may not have an immediate effect on essential medication availability (Klaus, 2012, pp. 3). Employing egalitarianism luck theory by Rawls, a brute luck makes individuals irresponsible for outcomes, but a personal responsibility casually exists with option luck as they can control risks. The stance of luck egalitarian points out that pharmaceutical industry is required to reduce inequalities that exist in poor developing countries for instance increase anti-TB and HIV/AIDS antiretroviral drug access. Partly, the differences result from the pharmaceutical company actions thus representing brute luck to those suffering from the disease.
As the society maintains therapy and prevention health systems, create healthy physical and social environment as well as providing risk factors information, individuals are required to use the provided information in maintaining their health to reduce health care needs (Malani, 2016). Responsibility is placed on a person in various situations. For instance, when the government has provided for health care including drug access, the failure to obtain the essential medicines may be upon the individual's responsibility.
Additionally, resource rationing in the public sector due to the consideration of its availability and cost may be required. Under this case illness in an individual may be considered as their casual responsibility. A person displaying risky behaviours will have himself or herself to blame for the outcomes. For instance, practices of unsafe sex which increase the chances of contracting HIV/AIDS or even smoking which increases chances of having coronary heart diseases. Moreover, when there is no adequate provision of the drugs from the government, an individual is responsible for their treatment since they are required to use payments from their pockets to cater for such treatment needs.
WHO. (2016). Access to affordable essential medicines. 1st ed. [ebook] pp.4-8. Available at: http://www.who.int/medicines/mdg/MDG08ChapterEMedsEn.pdf [Accessed 25 Mar. 2016].
The Pharmaceutical Journal. (2014). Access to medicines is a global struggle. The Pharmaceutical Journal, [online] 293(7830). Available at: http://www.pharmaceutical-journal.com/opinion/editorial/access-to-medicines-is-a-global-struggle/20066682.article [Accessed 25 Mar. 2016].
BANERJEE, A. (2012). Who has responsibility for access to essential medical drugs in the developing world?. 1st ed. [ebook] University of Oxford, pp.10-15. Available at: https://papyrus.bib.umontreal.ca/xmlui/bitstream/handle/1866/3384/2006v4n2_BANERJEE.pdf;jsessionid=BDE5359284663E699E4B368361622083?sequence=1 [Accessed 25 Mar. 2016].
Canning, D. (2011). Progress in Health around the World. 1st ed. [ebook] Harvard School of Public Health, pp.20-27. Available at: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/program-on-the-global-demography-of-aging/WorkingPapers/2011/PGDA_WP_80.pdf [Accessed 25 Mar. 2016].
Gov.uk. (2015). 2010 to 2015 government policy: health in developing countries - GOV.UK. [online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/2010-to-2015-government-policy-health-in-developing-countries/2010-to-2015-government-policy-health-in-developing-countries [Accessed 25 Mar. 2016].
Groenhout, R. (2016). The "brain drain" problem. 1st ed. [ebook] Toronto: University of Toronto press, pp.10-19. Available at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/10.2979/intjfemappbio.5.1.1.pdf?acceptTC=true [Accessed 25 Mar. 2016].
Klaus Michael Leisinger, A. (2012). Improving Access to Medicines in Low and Middle Income Countries: Corporate Responsibilities in Context. Southern Med Review, [online] 5(2), p.3. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3606933/ [Accessed 25 Mar. 2016].
Malani, P. (2016). Addressing Poverty and Human DevelopmentSynonymous With Infection Control on JSTOR. [online] Jstor.org. Available at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/523860?Search=yes&resultItemClick=true&searchText=healthcare&searchText=poverty&searchUri=%2Faction%2FdoBasicSearch%3FQuery%3Dhealthcare%2Bpoverty%26amp%3Bprq%3Dmedication%2Bpoverty%26amp%3Bgroup%3Dnone%26amp%3Bhp%3D25%26amp%3Bwc%3Don%26amp%3Bacc%3Don%26amp%3Bfc%3Doff%26amp%3Bso%3Drel [Accessed 25 Mar. 2016].
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