Equity in healthcare
Elaborating a draft Recommendation on equitable and timely access to innovative treatments and technologies in healthcare systems
It is essential that innovative treatments and new healthcare technologies are made available in an equitable and timely manner. However, in view of the competing demands on healthcare services, it may be a challenge to know how best to achieve this goal. To assist member States, the Committee on Bioethics intends to prepare a Recommendation laying down principles to ensure that patients may benefit from timely and affordable access to safe and effective medicines, and that fairness and consistency in decision-making, regarding equitable access to the products of innovation, are promoted.
The Recommendation, while allowing flexibility at member State level, would ensure that decisions regarding access to innovative treatments and interventions would take account of fundamental principles such as justice and beneficence. Moreover, a harmonised framework across member States would help to combat inequities between them and to empower them. This is especially relevant considering that many citizens travel between states to access innovative treatments and technologies, which is a challenge for all member States.
Promoting equitable and timely access to appropriate innovative treatments and technologies in healthcare
New developments in healthcare hold the promise of greatly improved health but can entail, at the same time, risks of deepening inequalities and new forms of discrimination and marginalisation. For instance, innovative treatments, such as for cancer, multiple sclerosis or very rare medical conditions, are often expensive and may only be affordable to a small portion of the population. Similarly, new healthcare technologies, such as health apps, telemedicine, and healthcare assistive robots, may only be available to those who possess the knowledge, skills, and financial means to use them. Consequently, it is necessary to encourage member States to ensure that new treatments and healthcare technologies are made available in an equitable and timely manner.