Kyrgyzstan takes steps to ensure equitable access to medicines, transforming the lives of citizens like Ymyt Berdibekova
07 March 2023
Ymyt Berdibekova, a 66-year-old pensioner from Bishkek, can now save 5% on her monthly spending on medicines, thanks to a new initiative of Ministry of Health.
Ymyt has been struggling with hypertension for over 36 years, which requires her to take medicine twice daily. Half of her monthly pension, which amounts to US$ 35, is spent on her treatment. Until now, Ymyt has had to work as a seller in a local shop as her monthly pension is not enough to meet her basic needs.
For the first time in Kyrgyzstan, prices of medicines are being regulated via a government decree introducing price controls for a number of medicines prescribed at the primary health-care level for the treatment of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).
This effort, supported by the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Partnership – WHO's largest initiative on international cooperation for UHC and primary health care – aims to increase the affordability of these medicines, which is critical in addressing the burden of NCDs in the country.
Introducing a new price-control mechanism
To improve price transparency and to inform the amendments to the price-control regulation, WHO organized several policy dialogues with manufacturers and distributors in Kyrgyzstan. Following these discussions, the revised draft legislation was approved in July 2021.
With the support of WHO and other development partners, a temporary price-control mechanism for selected medicines is currently being piloted across the country. According to a preliminary analysis conducted by national authorities, prices of selected items have decreased by 3–5%. A permanent regulation drafted by the Ministry of Health's working group is currently undergoing public consultation before being formally submitted for approval by the Cabinet of Ministers.
The effects of these first price-regulation measures are modest, and the Government is working on further measures to improve access to medicines and decrease the financial costs to patients.
Ensuring effective regulatory practices for medicines
The Ministry of Health is also collaborating with WHO to update its legal framework to ensure people have access to safe, effective, high-quality medicines. Revisions to laws concerning medicines and medical devices have been made, and additional sub-laws and amendments have been developed. As a result, the list of essential medicines subject to price regulation has expanded, and good regulatory practices for medicines and medical devices have been introduced.
The legal basis for implementing a medicines tracking system has also been established, which will enable the creation of an electronic database of medicines to manage stocks, improve pharmacological control and prevent the smuggling of counterfeit drugs. Different approaches to marketing approval for various groups of essential medicines have also been identified.
WHO remains committed to assisting Member States in developing policies and guidelines that encourage the responsible selection and use of medical products and medicines, and supporting them in enhancing access to reasonably priced, high-quality essential medicines. To achieve this goal, WHO will continue to organize policy dialogues with health ministries and social health insurance authorities across the WHO European Region.