Securing Access to Pharmaceuticals in Developing Countries: An Interview-based Study on Access to Treatment for Sickle Cell Disease Patients

Zsofia Keszthelyi

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis is aimed at exploring the issues and solutions concerning access to treatment in developing countries, focused on a genetic blood disorder, sickle cell disease. The research launches from the issue statement that despite local and global efforts, access to essential medicines is problematic for more than two billion people worldwide. To address this problem, the investigation is led by two research questions and a sub-question. The first two relate to exploring the causes and consequences of insufficient pharmaceutical access, as well as to researching existing solutions and potential solution ideas. The sub-question of this research is concerned with the feasibility of creating a solution that is sustainable financially, socially, and environmentally. In order to find these answers, an inductive approach is followed, where a literature review serves as a supporting backbone to the primary data collection method, semi-structured qualitative interviews. In total, eight interviews are conducted with experts in several fields, such as supply chain management, access to care, and medicine. These interviews provide insightful data for analysis, which is conducted by finding common themes with the NVivo software. The main takeaways of this research are that (1) the issue with accessing treatment actually starts with issues with accessing care, so the whole supply chain should be looked at holistically; (2) the most commonly mentioned issue was the lack of financial resources on both country and individual/family levels; (3) the lack of information, proper education and training, and awareness of specific diseases hinder the access to care; (4) reaching sustainability is a long way ahead, but steps can be taken to ultimately achieve wellfunctioning supply chains and extended pharmaceutical production in developing countries. Based on these and other takeaways, combined with ideas from already existing research, three recommendations are formed for stakeholders in the pharmaceutical supply chain. These are related to the need for solutions to be locally embedded; the importance of stakeholders moving away from their silo mindsets; and the tailoring of solutions to specific markets and disease areas.

EducationsMSc in Business Administration and Innovation in Health Care, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2022
Number of pages171
SupervisorsPedro Oliveira