Health Action International (HAI) Europe is a non-profit, independent, European network of consumer groups, public interest NGOs, healthcare providers, academics and individuals. HAI`s mission and goals follow the overarching global work programme set every five years. HAI Europe devises plans and strategies to inform medicines` policy in Europe and acts as a regional coordinating centre.
HAI`s mission is:
- To increase access to Essential Medicines: Ensuring that medicines meeting priority healthcare needs are available, accessible and affordable to all;
- To improve the Rational Use of Medicines: Ensuring that all licensed medicines meet real medical needs, have therapeutic advantages, are acceptably safe, offer value for money and are appropriately prescribed, in tailored doses, for an adequate time at the lowest cost to citizens and their community;
- To promote the participation of citizens in medicines policy: Encouraging and supporting the participation of patients and consumers in decisions that will affect their health and well-being, whilst advocating for the highest levels of transparency, independence and accountability in all aspects of medicines policy.
HAI Europe monitors and encourages EU policy-making around these three thematic priorities. HAI Europe works by implementing innovative methodologies that generate key data, develop and publish key publications and commentary as well as promote knowledge exchange on the impact of medicines policy on public health. The paucity of coherent medicines policies in Europe has driven HAI`s unique focus over the last 30 years and continues to be at the centre of HAI`s research, advocacy, capacity building and expertise, and as a result, has established HAI`s reputation as an authority on pharmaceutical policy issues.
Vision: Poverty and social injustice represent the greatest barriers to sustainable health and development and HAI works for a just and equitable society where people can participate in decisions affecting their health and well being, including the allocation of resources.
HAI`s goal is to increase access to essential medicines and improve their rational use through research excellence and evidence-based advocacy.
To promote essential innovation, research and development (R&D) and access to medicines, HAI contributes to the advancement of innovation models that dissociate the cost of R&D from medicines prices. Specifically, by:
- Following up on EU commitments to explore these alternative models through pilots or feasibility studies;
- Seeking partnerships with other health stakeholders to promote equitable licensing principles in publicly funded R&D to ensure that public funds derive a public good.
In order to encourage equitable access to medicines in Europe, HAI advocates for changes to the EU internal market laws that diminish accessibility and affordability of medicines to citizens, by:
- Monitoring and commenting on developments in anti-competitive practice in the pharmaceutical sector;
- Presenting the citizens` perspective to the policy process, policy makers and other relevant stakeholders;
- Formulating evidence-based policy materials to inform policy on EU`s IP enforcement laws; and
- Sharing expertise to build the capacity of civil society organizations on IP and access to medicines issues.
To encourage the rational use of medicines, HAI promotes the use of medicines that have tangible and proven therapeutic advantage, are acceptably safe and cost-effective. HAI seeks to increase health security by:
- Educating civil society about the link between promotional messages, over consumption of medicines and iatrogenesis (medicine-induced harm);
- Advocating for treatment decisions based on objective information;
- Encouragement of health literacy through access to independent medicines information;
- Increasing awareness about appropriate prescribing and rational antibiotic use by future healthcare professionals (students).
HAI upholds consumer rights and improves European patient safety by:
- Supporting effective and robust medicines regulation; and
- Fostering greater patient involvement in monitoring medicines safety to reduce threats to public health.
In order to advance accountability in medicines decision-making, HAI encourages and supports the participation of patients and consumers in decisions that affect their health and well-being.
HAI supports initiatives for greater public funding of independent health advocates by forging partnerships with health NGOs in European Member States to ensure that their voice is amplified at the EU level.
HAI promotes EU policy coherence with the EU`s commitments to health and development, by presenting key messages from the patient and consumer perspectives to policymakers in EU institutions.
HAI advocates for the highest levels of transparency and independence in the EU`s medicines policy process by:
- Promoting disclosure of information on which regulatory decisions are based, including data concerning medicines safety;
- Highlighting the link between conflicts of interest surrounding medicines and their impact on public health;
- Raising awareness of the relationship between corporate-funded interest representatives and their political messages at European level.
HAI Europe`s advantage and credibility stem from its widely recognised expertise, and its ability to draw on expertise from staff, members and partners throughout Europe and beyond.
HAI Europe`s role is to identify potentially problematic policy and initiate action. On one hand, HAI Europe serves as a multiplier and mobilises and coordinates initiatives, through research, policy analysis, and information sharing and capacity-building of civil society. On the other hand HAI Europe acts as a watchdog, monitoring governments, the European Commission, European agencies and intergovernmental organisations involved in medicines policy.
HAI`s work programme is drafted in consultation with the HAI network, advisory board and project staff. This programme informs the strategic plan, which is approved by the Foundation Board and implemented through annual plans.
1. To increase ACCESS TO ESSENTIAL MEDICINES
1.1: Equitable access in Europe: To promote policies that support equitable access to medicines and sustainable health systems.
Activities: Monitor the EU`s IP policies and other practices that obstruct competition in the pharmaceutical sector; examine medicines patient prices that impact on access; exchange expertise with policymakers about strategies to improve access and to reduce healthcare costs; execute campaigns linking EU internal market policies, unequal access to healthcare, and threats to the sustainability of health systems.
Methods and means: Implement study; develop briefing papers; meet relevant stakeholders; generate media coverage.
1.2: Essential innovation & access: Advance EU actions on the exploration of new models of medical innovation.
Activities: Follow-up on EU commitments to explore innovation models that dissociate the cost of R&D from medicines` prices;host public event on the implementation of innovation mechanisms that meet the challenges of health and demographic ageing while ensuring the sustainability of EU healthcare systems.
Methods and means: Identify partnerships; develop publication and outreach materials; meet with stakeholders; host public event; generate media coverage to support public awareness.
2. To encourage RATIONAL USE OF MEDICINES
2.1: Reducing health threats: Promote health security by highlighting the link between objective information and safe medicines use.
Activities: Investigate unethical medicines promotion; monitor EU policies on medicines` information and safety; raise awareness about the link between promotion and drug-induced harm.
Methods & means: Develop case-studies and publications; meet with relevant stakeholders; generate media coverage; appraise EMA documents (EPAR summaries and package leaflets).
3. To support DEMOCRATISATION OF MEDICINES POLICY
3.1: Good governance for medicines: To ensure that EU policies are responsive and accountable to public health needs.
Activities: Monitor the transparency and independence in EU medicines` decisions; participate in EU consultations to bring the citizen perspective to policymakers; advise and contribute to EU dialogues on health & development.
Methods & means: Develop publications; contribute citizens` perspectives when meeting relevant stakeholders; generate media coverage; contribute to EMA`s stakeholder meetings.
3.2: Knowledge transfer for public health: To support the next generation of CSOs to align EU policies and decision-making with wider public health and societal interests.
Activities: Update the website and publish the monthly newsletter (including special provisions to support contributions to the newsletter from youth members); host student workshops to transfer skills to future healthcare workers and promote their professional development; pilot HAI`s Young Ambassadors programme to equip youth and student advocates with the skills to be effective in their medicines` policy advocacy.
Methods & means: Develop website and newsletter; host student workshops; administer HAI Young Ambassadors programme; implement the Annual General meeting and the Association Board meetings.
Ethical aspects: The HAI programme applies and promotes ethical principles, and human rights, dignity and fundamental freedoms. HAI sources data from the public domain.