Press releases

WHO secures accord on better access to essential medicines for the poor

Fifty-fifth session of the WHO Regional Committee
13 to 17 September 2004, Shanghai, China

The World Health Organization's (WHO) Member States in the Western Pacific Region* today endorsed steps to ensure the poor are given better access to affordable drugs.

WHO's Regional Committee for the Western Pacific, which is composed of Member States, gave its support to the 2005-2010 regional strategy on improving access to essential medicines.

Millions of people in the Region die unnecessarily because they have no access to essential medicines, said Dr Shigeru Omi, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, in his report to the Regional Committee meeting in Shanghai, China.

The Western Pacific Region bears a significant part of the global burden of diseases, such as tuberculosis, malaria and childhood illnesses, including acute respiratory infections and acute diahrroea.

"About 1000 people in the Region die of tuberculosis every day, despite the existence of an effective cure," said Dr Omi.

Deaths and illness caused by disease can be significantly reduced by essential medicines.

The endorsement of the regional strategy means that WHO and its Members States will intensify their concerted efforts to improve access to essential medicines, in collaboration with other partners.

Dr Omi noted a significant increase in the production, distribution and sale of counterfeit medicines in recent years, including medicines to treat disease with high mortality, such as malaria. "Effective medicines regulation and enforcement, legislation, confiscation and destruction of counterfeit medicines and strong political will are all needed if dealers in counterfeit medicines are to be deterred," Dr Omi said.

The regional strategy calls for combating problems involving counterfeit drugs through increased awareness of health-care providers, policymakers and the general public; through a regional rapid alert system as well as through stronger collaboration between medicine regulatory authorities and law-enforcement agencies.

The regional strategy was developed through a process of wide consultation involving experts from within and outside WHO and counterparts. Comments from WHO technical programmes and national and international experts were incorporated.


For more information, please contact Peter Cordingley, Public Information Officer at (8621) 13651992771 or email:  or Marilu Lingad at (86 21) 50370000 local 4155 or (+63) 918 9181094 or email: 

*The 37 countries and areas comprising the WHO Western Pacific Region are: American Samoa, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Hong Kong (China), Japan, Kiribati, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Macao (China), Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Mongolia, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Pitcairn Islands, Republic of Korea, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Viet Nam, and Wallis and Futuna.


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