The Lancet Youth Commission on Essential Medicines Policies (YCEMP) held its first meeting July 24th-26th 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts, with 15 of the 17 youth commissioners in attendance. Special thanks are due to our funders the Norwegian Forum for Global Health Research, the Norwegian Agency for Aid and Development, and the University of Bergen; the Process Group (Anna Rasmussen and Kristine Onarheim) and Secretariat (Johanne Iversen and Arwin Timmermans) in organising the meeting; and our hosts the Department of Global Health at the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH).
Over three days the group met with a number of experts. The first day saw a discussion with Prof. Anita Wagner, Department of Population Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Dr. Warren Kaplan, Assistant Professor in the BUSPH Department of Global Health, who both advised on the Youth Commission’s work. We were also visited by Nicola Magrini, Secretary of the WHO Expert Committee on Essential Medicines, and Dr. Richard Laing, a professor at the BUSPH Department of Global Health. The commissioners and experts had a candid discussion on the landscape of essential medicines, the recently updated WHO Essential Medicines List, and the changing definition of “essential medicines”.
Each of the Youth Commission’s four working groups presented their wide-ranging initial analysis and recommendations, covering the definition of essential medicines; intersections between essential medicines policies and trade, intellectual property, and innovation; and, system-based strategies for equitable worldwide access. The role and contribution of the Youth Commission was also debated, with the aim to present usable recommendations to improve the development, delivery and use of essential medicines. The Youth Commission intends to focus its work through a youth lens and the health issues of the future, and is planning an online consultation to engage global discussion. Finally, processes were developed for teamwork, agreement and production of the report.
Creation of YCEMP reflects the vital importance of involving young people in decision-making, particularly given the vast numbers of people under 30 in the developing world who will be most affected by EMP over the next twenty years. The Youth Commission hopes to highlight the major challenges around access to essential medicines – especially for the most vulnerable and marginalized children, adolescents and young adults in the world – and propose new and ambitious recommendations to achieve health for all. To get involved follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ycemp), Twitter (@Lancet_YCEMP) or contact them through our webpage (www.ycemp.com)