Trans-Atlantic Bridge from Caribbean to Africa Will Have Health Benefits

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A TRANS-ATLANTIC ‘bridge’ connecting Africa and the Caribbean to improve cooperation on health, the Prime Minister of Barbados has confirmed.

Mia Amor Mottley met with global leaders on the sidelines at the COP27 summit in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt including the President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, Mohamed Irfaan Ali, and the President of the Republic of Rwanda, Paul Kagame to further hash out new plans in how their countries can work together.

The landmark move is in line with plans to develop pharmaceutical equity for global public health.

The leaders, along with the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, are aiming to create an “intergovernmental” approach dubbed as a “South-South” initiative between the two regions.

The trans-Atlantic bridge is expected to develop and manufacture up to 60% of essential, contemporary pharmaceuticals for people living in the Caribbean, and Africa Latin America by 2040.

Ms Mottley hailed the decision as “historic” and expressed her thanks to the leaders involved in bringing the ‘bridge’ to life.

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, she said.

“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.”

The “groundbreaking” venture will first focus on oncological drugs, preventive and therapeutic and preventive vaccines,  as well as on modalities for women’s health.

World leaders hope that manufacturing sites involved in the historical feat will be ready to deliver and meet the plans made at the COP21 Paris Agreement, adding that the initiative is not just limited to the countries that have first rolled-out the plans and is open to all in the African, Caribbean and Latin America regions.

Speaking about the trans-Atlantic bridge, President Mohamed of Guyana,  Irfaan Ali,  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 of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, said: “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 endeavour.”

WHO Secretary-General,  Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that the trans-Atalantic bridge comes after the Covid-19 pandemic showed that manufacturing capacity for medicines and diagnostics vaccines was limited in  “too few countries”.

He added: “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 emphasises 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.”

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