AfD participated in the Workshop on Promoting Access to Medicines by Empower School of Health, which was held in Geneva from 24 to 28 July 2017. In-between sessions, AfD volunteer Ann Parakkal recounted to us about her experience at the Workshop:
“It is a great opportunity to be part of this workshop because not only is it educational about health related development assistance, but ties can be made between organizations and representatives who are involved in health programs around the world. We have sessions with various UN organizations and prominent health organizations such as the Gavi Group, which I am looking forward to as well.
We just had a class in supply chain management – how medicines and vaccines are supplied, and we have has also had a course in medicine policies. This was interesting because there are needs and possible ways to improve access to low cost medicines below market value. New solutions could also benefit further people in Afghanistan.
Another issue regarding medicines that I learned is when it comes to their storage and shipment. When medicine is stored, the problem is that they expire too fast. A participant explained that theoretically, medicines could be shipped in several installments throughout the year instead of shipping all medicines at once. However this significantly increases the shipment expenses.
One of the things I have learned as well are the typical challenges developing countries face when it comes to knowledge gaps and stigma that prevents people from receiving essential treatment. HIV for instance is prevalent in many African countries. While treatment and medicines is currently only available for one-fifth of infected people (about 7 million for 36 million people with HIV Africa-wide), many people do not seek help in the first place because of shame and fear of being outcast. Educating people about various health issues is essential in improving health world-wide – especially in rural areas.”