Access to lifesaving medicines and diagnostics is often limited in resource-poor settings, putting some of the world’s most vulnerable populations at risk. For example, at the end of 2015, there were 36.7 million people living with HIV globally, primarily in low- and middle-income countries, yet only 17 million of them had access to antiretroviral therapy. Gaps in treatment expand beyond HIV/AIDS, and often affect children, who are especially susceptible to many preventable diseases. Low coverage rates for immunization and treatments for diseases such as malaria result in hundreds of thousands of deaths each year of children under 5.
Market failures are often at the root of this issue. Misaligned incentives between buyers and suppliers, lack of information transparency in the market, and other such barriers result in the inefficient use of available funding for lifesaving health products. These failures prevent governments from getting the most out of available dollars and create a risky environment for suppliers. As a result, patients in need are often unable to access critical health products, which can affect both individual health and population-level disease transmission. Many deaths could be prevented if barriers to access, such as high pricing and lack of in-country infrastructure, are addressed.