By Chioma Obinna
Pfizer Inc. on Wednesday launched ‘An Accord for a Healthier World’, a groundbreaking initiative aimed at providing all of Pfizer’s patented, high-quality medicines and vaccines available in the United State or the European Union on a not-for-profit basis to 1.2 billion people in 45 lower-income countries.
The Accord seeks to greatly reduce the health inequities that exist between many lower-income countries and the rest of the world.
Speaking on the development, Pfizer Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Albert Bourla said with the global COVID-19 vaccine rollout experience, supply is only the first step to helping patients.
“We will work closely with global health leaders to make improvements in diagnosis, education, infrastructure, storage and more. Only when all the obstacles are overcome can we end healthcare inequities and deliver for all patients.”
The Accord countries include all 27 low-income countries as well as 18 lower-middle-income countries that have transitioned from low to lower-middle-income classification in the last ten years. Pfizer will work with healthcare officials in Rwanda, Ghana, Malawi, Senegal and Uganda to identify early insights and opportunities to ensure all medicines and vaccines can reach those in need. This will include expertise to support diagnosis, healthcare professional education and training along with supply chain management and other infrastructure enhancements. Learnings from these five countries will be applied to support the roll out for the remaining forty countries.
Bourla said Pfizer will also collaborate with Accord participants to identify quick and efficient regulatory pathways and procurement processes to reduce the longer amount of time it can take to make new medicines and vaccines available in these countries.
Under the Accord, Pfizer has committed to provide 23 medicines and vaccines that treat infectious diseases, certain cancers, and rare and inflammatory diseases.
Making these medicines and vaccines more readily available has the potential to treat non-communicable and infectious diseases that claim the lives of nearly one million people each year in these countries and chronic diseases that significantly impact quality of life for at least half a million more . As Pfizer launches new medicines and vaccines, those products will also be included in the Accord portfolio on a not-for-profit basis.
The Accord also aimed to establish faster access to Pfizer’s future pipeline medicines and vaccines on a not-for-profit-basis to the 45 countries, particularly those that treat diseases that disproportionately impact global health.
With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Pfizer is advancing work on the development of vaccine candidates for the prevention of Group B Streptococcus (GBS), which is a leading cause of stillbirth and newborn mortality in low-income countries.
They are also discussing opportunities to support Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) vaccine development, another maternal vaccine.
Speaking, the Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates, stated that everyone, no matter where they live, should have the same access to innovative, life-saving drugs and vaccines. “The Accord for a Healthier World could help millions more people in low-income countries get the tools they need to live a healthy life. Pfizer is setting an example for other companies to follow.”
President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame stated that rapid and affordable access to the most advanced medicines and vaccines is the cornerstone of global health equity.
Kagame said Pfizer’s commitment under the Accord programme sets a new standard combined with additional investments in strengthening Africa’s public health systems and pharmaceutical regulators, the Accord is an important step toward sustainable health security for countries at every income level.”
President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, added that countries must continue to strive for quality healthcare for all people to live longer, stronger and healthier lives.
“It will require strong cooperation between the public and private sectors. We are proud to join this Accord to work together on this important goal.”
President of Senegal, MackySall stated Senegal proudly supports the launch of An Accord for a Healthier World to improve health equity and outcomes for the people of our country and across the world.
On his part, President of Malawi, Lazarus Chakwera said the great thing about Accord is that it helps low-income countries without violating their dignity and agency as people, for it is a true partnership that involves both Pfizer and countries like Malawi sharing the burden of costs and tasks in the production and delivery of supplies that will save millions of lives.
President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, stated that it was time to close the health equity gap. Uganda is proud to join the Accord, and we are committed to working with Pfizer and all Accord partners to find new ways to address access challenges.”