New partnership to support access to health interventions

Switzerland and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation join forces to improve access to health interventions through the strengthening of regulatory systems.

Berne, 23.01.2014

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Federal Department of Home Affairs (FDHA) and the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) have agreed on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to improve and accelerate access to health interventions and therapeutic products in resource-constrained countries. This is to be achieved by coordinating and leveraging resources through co-operation, in order to strengthen regulatory systems in these countries with a view to bringing high-quality, life-saving medicines to patients as quickly as possible.

At their meeting in Bern on Wednesday 22 January 2014, Dr. Trevor Mundel, President of Global Health Programs at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Lukas Bruhin, Secretary General of the FDHA and Benno Bättig, Secretary General of the FDFA, signed the Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate increased collaboration and to start the process of establishing concrete initiatives.

The overall goal of this partnership is to accelerate and increase access to high-quality, essential medicines for populations living in low-income countries. The aim is to increase the efficiency of the regulatory review and registration process by focusing stakeholders on value-added activities, and to strengthen the regulatory authorities’ ability to protect their citizens’ health. Although other regions may be involved, the initial focus will be on supporting regulators in sub-Saharan countries.

Work under the partnership will be led by Swissmedic, the Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products, which reports to the Federal Department of Home Affairs and is the authority responsible for the authorisation and supervision of therapeutic products, and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), which is responsible for the overall coordination of development activities within the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and is strongly committed to facilitating access to quality health services, including medicines, in sub-Saharan Africa.

A working group has been established and will develop concrete project proposals for review later this year.