Guyana/Rwanda/Barbados looking at ‘procurement mechanism’ to manufacture vaccines in Caribbean

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By Fareeza Haniff in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

fareeza@newsroom.gy

As talks continue between Guyana, Rwanda and Barbados to manufacture vaccines and medicines, the President of the East African nation told Heads of Government of CARICOM on Wednesday that the next step in cementing the arrangement is to decide on a procurement mechanism that will be sustainable.

The Rwandan President, Paul Kagame, is in Port of Spain for the first time and held a special meeting with the CARICOM Heads during the 45th meeting of the region’s Heads of Government at the Hyatt Regency.

“As a start, Guyana, Barbados, and Rwanda have embarked on a program of mutual support for the local manufacturing of vaccines and medicines. The next step is to commit to a pooled procurement mechanism that will make these facilities sustainable over the long run,” Kagame said.

President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame addresses CARICOM Leaders at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Port of Spain (Photo: Shaconeil Burnette/News Room/July 5, 2023)

It was in June 2022 that President Dr Irfaan Ali participated in the groundbreaking ceremony for a BioNTech facility – the first vaccine production facility – to be constructed in Rwanda (Kigali).

The facility is the start of a project in cooperation with Ghana, South Africa and Senegal that will allow Africa to become self-sufficient in vaccine production.

And it was there that the Guyanese Head of State stated his own intention to upgrade the country’s legislative and regulatory framework while investing in the necessary training and development research towards establishing a similar facility at home.

President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame and Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit, the Chairman of CARICOM (Photo: Shaconeil Burnette/News Room/July 5, 2023)

The President had told the News Room that the government’s development trajectory in diversifying the local economy is to invest in healthcare and education.

Meanwhile, President Kagame, in his address to the CARICOM Leaders, urged them to find a way to solve the issues of connectivity between Africa and the Caribbean in terms of transport and telecommunications.

He said, “Digital jobs will be a critical driver for high-quality youth employment for our economies, and also a key lever for offering our brightest young people an alternative to migration.

“The Commonwealth has a number of initiatives in this area, which can give us a head-start.”

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