More pharmaceutical manufacturing for the Caribbean soon 

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President Irfaan Ali on Tuesday joined Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley and the President of Rwanda Paul Kagame in a meeting at the sidelines of the COP27 in Egypt to discuss the furthering of pharmaceutical equity for global public health. 

Also part of the meeting in which Dr. Ali participated virtually was the President of the European Commission  Ursula von der Leyen, and the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.  

A statement noted that the key recommendation emanating from the meeting is an inter-governmental South-South cooperation initiative aiming at the development and manufacturing of 60% of all essential, contemporary pharmaceuticals for the populations of Latin America, the  Caribbean, and Africa within their respective continents by 2040. 

Initially, it is intended for the cooperation to focus on next-generation oncological drugs, and preventive and therapeutic vaccines, as well as on modalities for women’s health.

It is also stipulated that all manufacturing sites related to this endeavor will be in full compliance with the relevant stipulations of the COP21 Paris Agreement.  

The leaders of the countries and organizations which have launched this initiative have emphasized that all interested countries in the Caribbean, Latin America and African region are invited to join.  

“Today is a truly historic moment as with a great sense of urgency and understanding,  South-South Cooperation rose to the fore to address matters of global public health,” Prime  Minister Mottley said. Her Excellency added “I want to dearly thank President Dr Mohamed  Irfaan Ali, President Paul Kagame and President von der Leyen for recognizing the  importance of this venture and congratulate all stakeholders who have been instrumental  in developing this pharmaceutical transatlantic bridge between Africa and Latin America  and the Caribbean.” 

President Mohamed Irfaan Ali of Guyana said “I am honored to be a part of this  groundbreaking initiative that is a testimony to true South-South cooperation. From the  outset I congratulate my Colleague Honorable Mia Amor Mottley, Prime Minister of  Barbados for stewarding this cause and to His Excellency Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda  for his role in advancing this partnership that would provide the opportunity for the peoples  of Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean to have access to pharmaceuticals developed  within their own regions.” 

President von der Leyen of the European Commission added “Health is a top priority for  citizens, wherever they live. The EU is committed to supporting our African and Latin  American and Caribbean partners in boosting their own capacity to produce vaccines,  medicines, and health technologies. This will increase the resilience of their health systems  and contribute to economic growth. Thanks to close cooperation between all the necessary  actors, the public authorities, the scientific community and the private sector, we will get  there quicker”. 

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda concluded: “The progress we have made toward  pharmaceutical equity in Africa is a result of partnership both within our continent, and  beyond. We would like to see more of this kind of practical cooperation between the  Caribbean and Africa, and look forward to supporting this endeavor.” 

“One of the most important lessons of the pandemic is that manufacturing capacity for  medicines, diagnostics vaccines and other tools is concentrated in too few countries,” said  Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “At the World Health Assembly  last year, WHO’s Member States approved a resolution for strengthening local production  of medicines and other health technologies. International networks can play a crucial role in  expanding local production, such as this new partnership between Latin American and the  Caribbean and Africa. I welcome the today’s communiqué, which emphasizes the  importance of expanding not only manufacturing capacity, but also regulatory capacity, 

With technical expertise and the trust of communities. I’m also pleased to see the  commitment in the communiqué to establishing new manufacturing capacity with a strict  net zero emissions rule.” 

Prof Dr Senait Fisseha added: “The Caribbean and Latin America can learn from the  tremendous progress African countries have made on vaccine manufacturing in the past two  years. Similarly, African countries can learn from the innovative ecosystem LAC countries  have created around commodities, like pooled procurement mechanisms such as the  Revolving Fund for vaccines. Today, we had the opportunity to consider how we can expand  these efforts beyond vaccines and oncology into areas like reproductive health. We all face  common challenges in reproductive health – teenage pregnancy, maternal mortality and  morbidity, and unsafe abortion, among other things. And like with vaccines, we currently  rely heavily on imported medicines and commodities, putting our supply security at risk.” 

The ceremony was witnessed by Acting Director Dr. Ahmed Ogwell Ouma of Africa CDC,  President Dr Werner Hoyer of the European Investment Bank (EIB), and kENUP Foundation  Chairman Holm Keller.  

The Communiqué has been approved by acclamation at the end of the session.

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