One person in three – two billion people – lacks access to essential medicines. Millions die every year from HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, pneumonia, measles, diarrhoea, heart disease and stroke. Yet medicines exist for nearly all these problems. The Medicines Transparency Alliance (MeTA), launched in London in May 2008, aims to help people get the medicines they need.  Its chosen tools are information and accountability.

In each of seven countries – Ghana, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Peru, the Philippines, Uganda and Zambia – representatives of government, private sector and civil society are looking at every link in the medicines supply chain, from manufacturer to patient.

What makes this scrutiny so potentially powerful is that it stems not from a single perspective, but from a wide range of interests: government, manufacturers, traders, health workers, academics, non-governmental actors, journalists.

A second key factor is that MeTA’s national forums are not simply generating and uncovering data and other information but are committed to making it public and encouraging people and organisations to act on it and producing policies which make that possible.

Ultimately, the aim is to improve access to medicines for poor people.

MeTA and has now entered phase two which will build on the success of the pilot phase and concentrate on evidence-based interventions in the medicines market. MeTA was launched as a two year pilot programme in 2009. The global MeTA network is supported by the International MeTA Secretariat, which is a role shared by Health Action International and the World Health Organization. The contact point for the International MeTA Secretariat is renee@haiglobal.org.

All seven countries which took part in the meta pilot are now in transition, building comprehensive workplans for MeTA phase two, which will run until 2014, after which an external evaluation will take place.

What is MeTA?

  • An alliance internationally to promote dialogue and support change
  • Alliances within countries to focus on what can be done to increase access to medicines quality
  • Support to the countries from the International MeTA Secretariat – funds to support country work, and, on request, technical assistance.

The Medicines Transparency Alliance was launched on 15-16 May 2008, at Lancaster House in London.

Launch highlights

For MeTA’s launch, four independent journalists in pilot countries were commissioned to look at some of the issues that MeTA will tackle. Read their stories below:

MeTA launch at World Health Organization Assembly, Geneva, 21 May 2008
Click on the links below to see the presentations made at this event: