Life-saving medicines are out of reach for many patients but a World Health Organisation meeting held in Johannesburg this week could change that.
By 15:00 on Thursday, more than ten police vans were idling at the entrance of Emperor’s Palace in Kempton Park, where the World Health Organisation (WHO) is hosting the second Fair Pricing Forum this week.
With this much security, you’d be forgiven for expecting some drama. Half an hour later, about 100 protesters from the patient rights group the Treatment Access Campaign (TAC) arrived with placards and a memorandum to hand over to the health department and WHO.
And their demands are hardly radical.
In a nutshell, they want sick people to get the medicines they need, you know, without having to sell everything they own. Or worse, dying because they don’t have the cash.
TAC and other civil society organisations including the Fix the Patent Laws Campaign had planned to hand over a memorandum of demands to the WHO ahead of the forum.
Inside Emperor’s Palace, people in suits and sparkles will spend two days discussing ways to get drugs to patients cheaply. You might think: “Hey, these people have the same goal! I’m sure they let the advocates in.”
And you’d be wrong.
They will also discuss ways to force #BigPharma into being more transparent about the cost of developing drugs. But is this event open to the media? Nope.
Luckily, South Africa’s civil society hosted a panel discussion with some of the forum’s top speakers. Here’s what we learnt: