Medicine tablets Tayna/Flickr

Dejen de gravar a los enfermos

WASHINGTON, DC – Con frecuencia el debate sobre el acceso a medicamentos asequibles en los países emergentes y en desarrollo pasa por alto un tema crítico: los gobiernos de estos países rutinariamente endilgan aranceles y otros impuestos a medicamentos que son de vital importancia. Si bien estas medidas tienden a ser generadoras de ingresos modestos, hacen que los medicamentos afectados se encarezcan, lo que puede ponerlos fuera del alcance de muchas de las personas que más los necesitan.

Al igual que los países desarrollados, los países emergentes y en desarrollo importan algunos – o prácticamente todos – sus medicamentos, el costo de las cuales es cubierto principalmente por los propios pacientes, debido a la falta de seguro de salud en dichos países. Los ciudadanos de la India, por ejemplo, pagan de su propio bolsillo el 70% de sus gastos de atención médica. Habida cuenta que los aranceles y otros impuestos aumentan los costos de los medicamentos hasta en dos tercios en algunas zonas, aun los medicamentos genéricos más básicos se tornan inasequibles para los más pobres. Tal como se determina en un informe de investigación, dichos gravámenes son esencialmente un “impuesto que deben pagar los enfermos”, mismo que el gobierno podría eliminar fácilmente.

La historia es similar en muchos mercados emergentes. Según un estudio realizado en el año 2012 por la Organización Mundial del Comercio, Argentina, Brasil, India y Rusia imponen aranceles de alrededor del 10% a los medicamentos importados, mientras que Argelia y Ruanda, por ejemplo, mantienen una tasa de 15%. El arancel en Yibuti es del 26%. Como señaló el informe, es difícil entender por qué los países pequeños mantienen aranceles altos para los productos de salud – una medida que sólo sirve para hacer subir los precios internos.

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