Increasing Access to Essential Medicines in Developing Countries: Strategies and Barriers

September 27, 2009, 5:51 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

The World Health Organization estimates that one third of the world lacks regular access to essential medicines (1), defined as those drugs and diagnostics necessary for a basic health care system (2). Furthermore, 10 million people die unnecessarily every year because they lack access to existing medical treatments (3). This seminar will critically examine the role of universities, governments, non-governmental organizations and pharmaceutical companies in the effort to ensure worldwide access to needed medicines. Upon completion of the course, students will have knowledge of patent laws and relevant trade agreements, the effects of these on affordability of medicines in impoverished countries, aid measures already taken to improve access to drugs and other medical technologies, and challenges that remain at this time.

This seminar is a 4oo-level student directed seminar open to third and fourth year undergraduate students in any discipline. It runs January-April 2010 and will count for three credits in the Faculty of Arts at UBC. Course meeting times are Mondays and Wednesdays, 7-8:30pm in Buchanan B310. For more information about what a student directed seminar (often abbreviated SDS) is, look here. This seminar will have between eight and fifteen students.

This course is listed in the Health and Society department: course code HESO 449B. For information on how to enroll in the course, please see Apply.

If you’re interested in taking this course, I would love to hear from you! My name is Sonja Babovic and I am the student coordinator of this course, and will be running it with the generous help of Dr. Kishor Wasan of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Please do e-mail me at sonja.babovic@gmail.comĀ if you have any questions, and to inquire about registration. Thanks!


1. Habiyambere V. Progress of WHO Member States in developing national drug policies and in revising essential drugs lists (WHO/DAP/98.7). World Health Organization: Geneva, 1998.

2. World Health Organization. WHO Model Lists of Essential Medicines. Available at: Accessed on October 16, 2008.

3. Equitable access to essential medicines: A framework for collective action. Geneva: World Health Organization, 2004. Available online at