Medicines Transparency Alliance (MeTA)
Governments, pharmaceutical companies, civil society; UK Department for International Development (DFID), World Bank, World Health Organization (WHO)
This initiative aims to increase access to essential medicines for people in developing countries, by increasing transparency and accountability in medicines procurement and supply chains to tackle inefficiency, corruption and fraud.
MeTA was founded based on the idea that greater transparency in the medicine supply chain and bringing together stakeholders from government, the private sector and civil society to discuss and analyse it could help foster change and increase access to medicines for vulnerable members of society. Partly in response to the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and UN MDG 8.e in particular, the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) launched the initiative in 2008, with the support of the World Bank, the World Health Organization, and stakeholders including the seven pilot countries, companies and NGO.
The Medicines Transparency Alliance (MeTA) is a network of individuals and organizations in seven countries. The network includes health workers, administrators, civil servants, politicians, pharmaceutical company employees, civil society and international organizations and the media.The structure of the MeTA consists of three main bodies: the International MeTA Secretariat (IMS), MeTA Management Board (MMB), and the International Advisory Group (IAG). The IMS was established to coordinate, organise, promote and support the implementation of MeTA at all levels. It has channelled technical and financial support to the pilot countries, whilst maintaining contact with all national stakeholders, strengthening capacity, organising global and regional meetings of working groups to facilitate cross- country learning, and servicing the global governance structures. The MeTA Management Board, which is chaired by DFID, consists of the core group of the founding partners – DFID, WHO and the World Bank. The MMB has provided overall guidance for the programme and has agreed the support provided to participating countries through the IMS. The International Advisory Group has supported the overall work of MeTA with a particular commitment to its transparency and accountability goals. It consisted of elected representatives from each pilot country and a number of experts drawn from international organisations, academia and the private sector.
Governance, transparency, accountability, supply-chain, medicine
To improve the lives of millions by helping them get access to the medicines they need, through the use of the tools of transparency and accountability
One of the most fundamental elements of MeTA in each of the pilot countries has been the creation of the national MeTA Councils as multi-stakeholder groups. All seven pilot countries have had an active multi-stakeholder MeTA Council made up of representatives from the government, private sector and civil society. The make-up of the Council has varied in each country but this new platform for discussion and decision-making has been critical building trust and confidence, bringing out technical knowledge and allowing the planning and development of country policies to happen in a more open and effective way. This bringing together of different interest groups is a key element in the MeTA approach. In the pilot phase, participants made publicly available existing information on the medicines supply chain, and to add data where there were gaps in information. This data opacity might include information on availability, price, promotion and use of medicines, and where possible identify ways of overcoming them. Governments taking part in MeTA commit themselves to disclosure of a standard set of core data about medicines – and to involve civil society, business and other sectors in using the data to help confront problems in the pharmaceutical market. As a result, people previously denied access to important medicines data, for example, civil society organisations and members of the public, will be able to access new information through websites and publications and be able to take action to hold different stakeholders accountable. MeTA also combines this local approach with an international perspective, through the involvement of stakeholders operating at the global level. The globalized nature of the pharmaceutical market transnational trade in medicines, which is often poorly understood, weakly regulated and opaque, makes this global perspective an important component of the initiative. Many MeTA stakeholders participate in international discussions and provide feedback about the key issues.