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Annex D: Improving the Access to Essential Medicines in Low‐Income Countries

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An estimated 10.8 million people died from infectious diseases in 2001. Of those deaths, 98.6% (10.6 million) occurred in the developing world, while only 1.4% (150 000) occurred in high‐income countries (Jamison et al., 2006, Chapter 3). Around half of all deaths from infectious diseases occur in sub‐Saharan Africa. Indeed, as seen in Table D.1, the top four killers in sub‐Saharan Africa are infectious diseases, and the fifth is perinatal deaths, while in rich countries, the top five killers are non‐communicable diseases. The vast majority of deaths from infectious diseases, maternal mortality, and perinatal deaths are preventable or controllable. The core problem is that existing, highly effective, and low‐cost interventions to control these diseases simply do not reach the poor. The root cause of this massive failure is extreme poverty itself: health systems barely function in the rural areas of the poorest countries (Sachs and Sachs, 2007). Rich countries can afford to fight infectious diseases, while the poor cannot. Increased donor resources, directed at the poorest of the poor, could save millions of lives each year and would achieve vast economic benefits many times larger than the costs (CMH, 2001). 

Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: April 1, 2009

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