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On Thursday, 24 September 2015, PharmAccess managing director Onno Schellekens was invited to give a presentation at the Duke Global Health Institute on how public and private stakeholders can work together to make health markets work for the poor.


In his introduction, Dr. Mike Merson, founding director of the Duke Global Health Institute and the Wolfgang Joklik Professor of Global Health at Duke University, told the audience that PharmAccess has “really revolutionized the way healthcare is being delivered in Africa.” He recalled how he first heard about PharmAccess from founder Joep Lange, who explained the PharmAccess approach to delivering anti-retroviral drugs in Africa through the private sector. Merson remembers thinking, could such a revolutionary idea work? “It just seemed so far out there. But Joep was a very innovative and daring soul, and as you will hear, it certainly has worked.”

While PharmAccess believes that the public sector has a very important role to play in achieving inclusive healthcare, the question Schellekens poses is: “When the state doesn’t have the means or the ability to care for everybody, what do you do?” After PharmAccess was founded in 2000, it quickly demonstrated that private financing for HIV/AIDS treatment was driving results in Africa. Schellekens is most proud of colleagues like Joep Lange who believed that it was better to start treating people for HIV/AIDS in Africa with private sector resources rather than “wait until the public money is there for everybody.” In the absence of a functioning state, “we should bypass the political correctness and stand up against big institutions that simply don’t deliver on what their mandate is.”

Schellekens then delivered a presentation on how PharmAccess and its many public and private partners in Africa and across the globe are working together to increase access to improved healthcare for people in sub-Saharan Africa.