Losing lives due to insufficient access to medications.

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In 2015, around 1.6 million Africans lost their lives to malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV-related illnesses. These diseases can be preventable or treatable with timely access to appropriate and affordable medicines, vaccines, and health services. However, the sad reality is that less than 2% of drugs consumed in Africa are produced on the continent, leading to limited access to locally produced medicines, and many people cannot afford the imported ones.

Due to this lack of access to medicines, Africans remain vulnerable to the continent’s three major killer diseases: malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 50% of global child deaths under the age of five from diseases like pneumonia, diarrhea, measles, HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria occur in Africa. Having access to medicine, as defined by the WHO, means having continuous availability of affordable medications at health facilities within a one-hour walking distance from the population.

In certain regions, such as parts of Zimbabwe, the shortage of medicines is so acute that some nurses resort to giving painkillers as a “treat-all drug” due to the lack of alternatives. In South Africa, the situation is equally dire, with medical facilities often informing patients that there is no medication available, leaving many with no choice but to seek help at bigger, more expensive hospitals, which is not feasible for the majority of the poor population. The lack of affordable medicines is a significant challenge that affects the health and well-being of many Africans.