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Interview Leena Menghaney

Interview: Leena Menghaney, South Asia Director of the Access Campaign of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) May 2016

South Asia Director of the Access Campaign of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) May 2016

They want to know why drug prices are so high and why governments can’t provide treatment.

Leena Menghaney

Leena Menghaney is a lawyer activist and South Asia Director of the Access to Medicines Campaign of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). MSF is an independent, international humanitarian medical organization.Leena talks about the lessons that can, and should be learnt from the patient led movement that resulted in increased access to HIV drugs. She argues that these lessons can be translated into treatment models appropriate to low resource settings and applied to the rapidly growing problem of access to medicines for non-communicable diseases including heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

As well as innovative new treatments, pricing and problems with healthcare delivery, she examines the issues against the changing environment and the emergence of antimicrobial resistance. She recognises the importance of India’s generic medicine industry for improving access to healthcare across the developing world and looks to the courts and India’s legal processes to safeguard the world’s pharmacy for future generations.

What is required is workable models which work in resource poor treatment not in fancy labs because that is not what India needs or what developing countries need,” she explains. Cancer, she sees as a major challenge – for patients but also for organisations like MSF.

I think that cancer is a major challenge because there is a growing burden of cancer in developing countries and the prices of cancer treatment are very high. At the same time you have different forms of cancer and it’s a very big challenge for an organization like the MSF to decide which cancers you treat first. For example if you look at cervical cancer which is very high in women and can we find a way to diagnose it early so that it can be treated . These are the questions that MSF has started asking itself. We are nowhere near in starting to treat cancer in the field.

Leena was interviewed in May 2016 by Ajoy Bose

Ajoy Bose

Television commentator, columnist and author Ajoy Bose has been working on public health issues in India for the past 15 years. As well as political reporting for the English language news channel, CNN News 18, Ajoy works with Hyderus as a consultant to explore the connections between pharma companies, NGOs, patient groups and other stakeholders in delivering public health in India.

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