Stronger Health Advocates Greater Health Impacts: Markets Matter Advocacy Guide

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Today, one of global health’s biggest challenges—and opportunities—lies in strengthening the markets that make health products and services available to the most vulnerable women, children, and families in low- and middle-income countries. The Sustainable Development Goals challenge us to work together to improve the health of all people by 2030. But we won’t reach those ambitious targets—and save the lives of millions of people—without assuring a consistent supply of high-quality, affordable, and appropriate health products to meet demand; and that requires strengthening the markets for these lifesaving products.

To many people working in global health, “market strengthening” sounds complex—a job perhaps best left to economists. However, the reality is that medicines and technologies can only save lives if they reach the people who need them. And the markets that ensure these products are available can only be as strong as the policy environments in which they operate. Governments need to understand how their policies and systems support or hinder health product markets and adapt them to improve access, safeguard citizens, and create market incentives that support affordable products and strengthen the sustainability of supply. And we need citizens to hold their governments accountable to ensure equitable access. Advocates have the power to raise awareness about the costs and consequences of ineffective policies that affect availability and affordability and allow the distribution and provision of poor quality products that can be harmful, or even deadly.

At PATH, we arm advocates with the evidence they need to demand change in their countries toward better health. We know that informed policy can make a difference in strengthening markets to facilitate access to lifesaving health products. This guide aims to demystify the issue of market strengthening. It offers critical information and highlights practical opportunities for advocates to identify and strengthen policies that will promote well functioning markets and ensure greater access to both new and established health products, particularly for those most in need.

Increasing political will and building robust policy environments for healthy markets won’t happen without a strong network of advocates, influencers, and decision-makers joining forces to address the shortcomings in access to health products. We hope this guide will be a useful resource to help grow and support this network, toward the shared goal to bring health innovations within reach of everyone, no matter where they live.

About the guide

This guide aims to make understanding markets easier and provides information and tools to support advocacy with policymakers and other key decision-makers. It is designed primarily for experienced health-issue advocates who are new to thinking about markets. Armed with this guide, you will be able to deepen your public health impact by including a market perspective in your advocacy work and ensuring that health equity, choice, and access are effectively reflected and realized.

You are encouraged to read the guide in its entirety and in the order information is presented, as content and concepts build on each other. Wherever possible, the guide links you to actionable resources. The guide also includes annex materials that provide additional background and tools to support development of specific and actionable advocacy for market strengthening strategies.