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PharmAccess at International Aids Conference 2018

The International AIDS conference 2018 marked a significant anniversary for PharmAccess. Four years ago, our founder Joep Lange, was on route to the Aids 2014 conference in Australia when his Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down. This year, we remembered our founder and made contributions to the conference that were based on his legacy of scientific research, pragmatism and action.

  • Jul 30, 2018

This year’s conference highlighted the many challenges that HIV response faces today – not least decreases in funding and a new epidemic emerging in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Alongside the Joep Lange Institute, PharmAccess led discussions and events on the role that digital technology can play in facing such challenges. The conference also saw the launch of a new book by Dr Seema Yasmin, “The Impatient Dr. Lange.” The event contained plenty of emotion and anecdotes, as well as how Joep’s inspirational legacy can be passed on to a next generation (the book is available to order here).

Part of that legacy is a core belief that the key to further progress – particularly in terms of healthcare financing and delivery is technology. PharmAccess believes that technology will help us reach every patient, and finance care in smart ways that maximize declining resources and helps stimulate investment.

Innovations like the M-TIBA mobile health wallet (a collaboration between PharmAccess, Safaricom and Carepay), offer great potential. For the individual user, M-TIBA, is a simple, easy to use, yet life-changing development. With a basic mobile phone in hand, individuals whether they live in the slums of Nairobi or in rural areas, can access the M-TIBA health wallet at the touch of a button. In our discussions we demonstrated how this technology can change the way a HIV patient accesses care but crucially this technology it is not limited to one disease, it is designed to create better access for everyone.

Without needing a bank account, users can directly and at no costs, save into the wallet, ask their families to instantly transfer contributions into it in times of need, or access vouchers or health insurance cover. This reduces the risk of catastrophic out of pocket expenditures that push 100 million people per year into poverty.

At the back-end, the platform collects vital data that is useful for everyone. It enables doctors to improve healthcare delivery and empowers patients to make informed decisions about care. Crucially, M-TIBA also has the capacity to bring together different financing solutions from donors, investors and governments, uniting the current fragmentation in the sector. As Nicole Spieker, Director of Quality at PharmAccess, commented in our conference trigger talk last Wednesday, innovations like M-TIBA are not ‘’a poor man’s solution’’ but a smart one. They answer the urgent need to ensure every individual, however excluded or vulnerable, has access to better healthcare and this solution makes the most of the technologies that are already in our pockets.