Ahead of World Diabetes Day today, WHO hosted several private sector entities who have expressed new commitments and proposed contributions to requested WHO Asks or strengthened previous commitments to increase access to insulin and health technologies.
This was part of the 3rd diabetes dialogue to support diabetes diagnosis and monitoring including access to devices such as glucose meters and point-of-care glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) for people that need them most in low and middle-income countries (LMICs).
Diabetes continues to pose a critical challenge to global health and is among the top causes of death globally with more than 420 million people currently living with diabetes worldwide. Lack of access to insulin, blood glucose monitoring devices, and other essential medicines further compounds the situation.
Some of the specific commitments are to:
- participate in WHO’s prequalification programme for insulin and for devices (blood glucose meters and point-of-care HbA1c measuring devices), in line with WHO’s rules policies and procedures;
- participate in pool procurement mechanisms for diabetes medicines and health technologies, coordinated by WHO;
- uninterrupted supply of human insulin for LMICs, by completing technology transfer of the active pharmaceutical ingredient to a local manufacturer on the African continent and through contract manufacturing of Southeast Asia-based pharmaceutical manufacturing entities;
- capacity building in domestic manufacturing and supply chain management (including cold storage), following international good practice standards;
- actively participate in the WHO Global Reporting Mechanism to register and publish contributions of the private sector entities, and
- provide data on the heat stability of insulin.
The 3rd dialogue encouraged implementation of and accountability for the commitments and contributions from the private sector entities, including the pharmaceutical and health technologies industry to support WHO’s activities to strengthen and improve access to medicines and technologies for Diabetes, including the manufacturer announcements for 2022.
“The success of these commitments to increase access for people living with diabetes is an important step in the right direction, but global engagement will need to be translated into implementation in regions and countries,” said Dr Bente Mikkelsen, WHO Director for Noncommunicable Disease. “This is the starting point – the hope is to have insulin and diabetes devices as part of Essential Benefit Packages in low- and middle- income countries towards achieving Universal Health Coverage.”
WHO also prequalified its first four human insulins (fast-acting human insulin and intermediate-acting human insulin) in September 2022. These newly-prequalified products can be stored at temperatures up to 30˚C for four weeks before opening. “The updated storage conditions for the prequalified products will greatly facilitate the use of these essential medicines under challenging temperature conditions where there is limited access to refrigeration in relevant low-and-middle-income countries,” said Dr Rogério Gaspar, Director of WHO’s Department of Regulation and Prequalification.
These dialogues with the private sector follow on from the establishment of the WHO Global Diabetes Compact (GDC) and the Political Declarations of 2011, 2014 and 2018, which together have providede an opportunity for the global diabetes community to come together to address the barriers to accessing insulin and its associated health technologies.
Private sector entities, including business associations, have expressed their support to continue to work together as a global community towards the NCD disease targets of the SDGs, including the diabetes targets set out at the World Health Assembly in 2022. However, there is still a huge gap in meaningful commitments and effective contributions from private sector entities to national NCD responses in low- and middle-income countries. The forthcoming Fourth UN High-level Meeting on NCDs to take place in 2025 represents a unique opportunity for relevant stakeholders to recognize that essential NCD medicines and health technologies must be global goods, available and affordable for all.
More information on engagement with the private sector on medicines and technologies for diabetes care can be found on Noncommunicable diseases (who.int)
More on the private sector dialogues can be found on Dialogue with the private sector on access to medicines and technologies for diabetes care, November 2022
More on the prequalification can be found on First human insulins prequalified
More on WHO actions to improve access to treatment and care Actions for better access
More on the WHO Global Diabetes Compact can be found on The WHO Global Diabetes Compact