News from Universities Allied for Essential Medicines Campaign
In part to celebrate our recent re-affiliation with Medsin I thought I’d give an update to the network on just what we’ve been toiling away on here at UAEM recently!
But first, for those unfamiliar with us, a quick introduction: Universities Allied for Essential Medicines is an international student group composed of medical, law, public health and biomedical research students from more than 70 universities worldwide. We aim to maximise global access to public health goods through equitable licensing policies for patents at our institutions, allowing among other things, generic manufacture of drugs and medical technologies in low and middle-income countries. Since our inception 11 years ago, we have also worked to increase the amount of research conducted into neglected tropical diseases, a particularly hot topic at the moment. By doing this we empower students to tackle these global issues by leveraging the power of our universities. More info can be found here.
Many of you may have noticed the WHO recently held its World Health Assembly – where the world’s most important health policy decisions are made. One of the focuses of this year’s WHA was financing and coordination of research and development (R&D). UAEM’s Johanne Helene Iversen, on behalf of UAEM and IFMSA, gave a statement - or ‘intervention’ in WHO speak - to delegates at the assembly urging them to adopt a global R&D convention. This came after one of UAEM’s main ideas was very positively evaluated in the most recent Consultative Expert Working Group report on R&D; page 182.These were both major wins for UAEM and was a result of the passionate work of UAEMers around the world. Our delegation (pictured) comprised of students from the UK, Norway, Denmark, Brazil and America – really showing our international nature as a group. Member states agreed to hold formal consultations and feasibility studies on a national and regional level and report to next year’s 66th World Health Assembly. Although, given the decade of deliberations on this issue, we had hoped for a binding agreement, we remain hopeful about the outcomes of the 66th WHA.
The work of UAEMers on neglected tropical diseases recently found its way into many major news networks. A scientific paper published with the help of UAEMers likened the rise of Chagas disease to the early days of the HIV/AIDs crisis. The Daily Mail, New York Times, Fox News, The Huffington Post and CNN all covered the journal piece.
Our international network of our societies also continues to grow stronger. UAEM, which started 11 years ago at Yale university with a major success, allowing the price of an antiretroviral to be reduced 96%, is now truly international. The European side of UAEM (including the UK) recently hired a new full time executive director – a former student in the campaign and appointed a board of directors. This follows the work of students in securing a large amount of funding for the new EU network, now present in Germany, Norway, UK and Denmark. The US side of UAEM recently hired more people to help co-ordinate the campus campaigns; they also have several interns. They are also working to support our expansion into low and middle income countries, supporting groups such as those in Brazil.
None of this mentions the majority of our campaigning work, which takes place at universities. Spread across the globe our societies form the foundation of our group, all working towards the goals mentioned above. A great example of our work can be taken from UAEMers at the University of California. After years of hard campaigning, they finally succeeded in making real change as the university now has guidelines supporting global access to its inventions. This serves as an inspiration to us all, showing that even if it takes years, change is possible.
If you’re interested in getting more involved in this truly amazing group drop an email to email@example.com. Maybe consider applying for some of our national committee roles. Positions still up for grabs are Vice-coordinator, Student Campaigns Coordinator, Academic Campaigns Coordinator and Research Coordinator. Descriptions of these can be found here.Other ways to keep up to date on our work, such as our facebook pages, UAEM UK and UAEM and our twitter pages, UAEM and UAEM UK are also worth liking/following.
Questions? Why not leave a comment. Written by Joseph McArthur of UAEM UCL. Thank you to Sadie Regmi for her help editing.