Across emerging markets we are seeing a shift towards prevention in healthcare policy, as governments seek to contain spiraling treatment costs.
There is a growing, if long overdue, recognition among policy-makers that the cost of prevention can be cheaper than the cost of treating the disease itself. China’s ambitious primary care creation project aims to focus increased attention on preventative healthcare, while in Saudi Arabia, the Ministry of Health’s ‘Vision 2030’ recognises primary care as ‘the most important component in the health system’ and aims to reform and restructure its delivery to improve disease prevention.
Private health insurance plans, which are increasingly gaining traction among middle classes in emerging markets, also incentivize preventative healthcare among enrolees. While there is still a long way to go for emerging markets to realise their preventative healthcare goals, products for screening, diagnostics and vaccines are all poised to benefit from this increasingly prevalent mindset of wellness promotion. This mindset also paves the way for increasing access to medicines for prophylactic use, such as anti-thrombotics to be taken before surgery to reduce risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and treatment as prevention (TasP) among high-risk populations.
However, emerging markets can be challenging environments for preventative healthcare products to enter. Deeply ingrained cultural and educational barriers can be encountered. Attitudes to healthcare may generate resistance to presenting to a healthcare professional, or reluctance to accept a vaccination to a greater extent than in mature markets. The belief that vaccines are for babies, for example, can limit uptake of adult vaccines. Social stigma associated with taking PrEP constitutes a barrier to uptake in mature markets, and this can be magnified in emerging markets.
An in-depth understanding of the local nuances at play, and how the challenges they present can be overcome, is essential for success. Drawing on our knowledge of preventative diseases and vaccines, we are happy to provide guidance and advice of the key considerations that need to be taken into account when designing a study in order to effectively achieve this understanding.