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Ebola outbreak highlights 'troubling lack of commitment to public health'

A review in The Lancet medical journal casts a light on the global inequalities for access to treatment

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has highlighted the global inequalities in terms of how patients in low income countries struggle to gain access to the drugs they need.

A review involving 11 essays in The Lancet medical journal made this conclusion and said there was a ‘troubling lack of political commitment to public health’ globally.

More than 10,000 people had died in the outbreak by the end of March, the World Health Organization estimates.

The review describes how health professionals from countries such as the US and the UK received medicines to save their lives during the outbreak, but that patients in Africa did not.

One essay states how the Ebola epidemic is only the most recent event to have exposed how ill-suited the medical research and development system is to tackle the world’s health priorities, arguing that improving access to diagnostics, drugs and vaccines cannot be left to market forces.

Lancet editor Pam Das said: ‘One of the messages of the review is that we need to revitalise research and development to produce global public goods and build stronger health systems through universal health coverage.’

A quarter of medicines in low income countries are believed to be substandard or counterfeit, and the global trade in fake medicines drastically undermines the capabilities of governments to curb both infectious and non-communicable diseases, the review concluded.

Read the review here.

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