Source: WHO Regional Office for Africa |

African island states take fresh step towards joint medicines procurement

The programme also sets the guiding principles and governance structure, including the creation of a secretariat, technical committees and a council of ministers

BRAZZAVILLE, Congo (Republic of the), March 27, 2024/APO Group/ --

In a further move towards pooled procurement of essential medicines and medical products, Ministers of Health from small African islands states established a secretariat and elected Mauritius as the host, taking critical steps to launch joint operations for increased access to affordable, quality-assured and safe medicines and medical supplies.

The pooled procurement programme, signed in 2020 by Cabo Verde, Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritius, Sao Tome & Principe and Seychelles, that form the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) from Africa, and endorsed by Madagascar, aims to coordinate the purchase of selected medicines and medical products affordably, harmonize medicines management systems, improve supplier performance and reduce procurement workload. The programme also sets the guiding principles and governance structure, including the creation of a secretariat, technical committees and a council of ministers.

The ministers, gathering for the 8th SIDS meeting in Victoria, Seychelles, took the new step to set up a secretariat as they embark on the final stages of the joint procurement initiative.

“Mauritius is honoured to assume this important responsibility and we thank fellow SIDS countries and Madagascar for the confidence demonstrated in us to host the pooled drugs procurement secretariat,” said Hon Kailesh Jagutpal, Minister of Health and Wellness of Mauritius. “We will assume this duty with the care and rigour that it requires for the common good of all people and countries represented.”

Pooled procurement has been on the SIDS agenda since 2017 when the countries expressed commitment to implement the initiative.

“I congratulate Mauritius on the election as host for the secretariat. This is a win for all of us. Our unique position of SIDS in the African region is what brings us together and makes us stronger,” said Cabo Verde Minister of Health, Hon Filomena Gonçalves. “We will continue to play an important role in moving the agenda of pooled procurement forward and will work closely with our partners, including WHO.” 

During the 25–27 March 2024 meeting, the ministers and government representatives also agreed to strengthen collective efforts and actions on health, including bolstering preparedness and response to health emergencies, strengthening health systems and putting in place measures to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change, to which island nations are particularly vulnerable. 

“As a collective we have come together to explore different ways of working so we can make our voices heard in all the important global arenas. Even if we don’t always have the capacity on our own, through SIDS we can do it. We may be small, but we can be big in our actions,” said Hon Peggy Vidot, Minister of Health of the Seychelles. 

The meeting was the first for Guinea-Bissau, which has now become a full member of SIDS, and for Madagascar, which accepted the invitation to be part of the SIDS Network initiative and therefore part of pooled procurement efforts. 

“This meeting will be remembered as a milestone. We’ve had fruitful discussions and made important decisions that will have an impact on SIDS and the rest of the region. At WHO, we will provide technical support to SIDS to ensure the implementation of the agreed-upon actions from this meeting,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization Regional Director for Africa. 

The SIDS meeting in the African region serves as a forum for a collective voice for joint inputs into global SIDS events, including the upcoming Fourth International Conference on SIDS in Antigua and Barbuda, which will take place in late May 2024. 

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of WHO Regional Office for Africa.