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Seychelles signs pooled procurement agreement to improve access to quality medicines

Seychelles has formalised an alliance with four Small Island Developing States (SIDS) of the World Health Organisation Africa Region in a bid to improve access to better quality goods at a lower cost.

The Secretary of State for Health, Ambassador Marie Pierre Lloyd and ministers for health from Mauritius, Comoros, Cabo Verde, and Sao Tome and Principe signed the SIDS Pooled Procurement agreement in a virtual ceremony on Tuesday 29th September 2020. The event was attended by the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus, the WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti and the WHO Representative for Seychelles Dr Teniin Gakuruh.

“Pooling together procurement will bring the cost of medicines down greatly for the countries, all faced with the challenge of economies of scale. This is important more so in this day and age when prices of medicines and are so high and our economies are at its worst in view of COVID-19,” Ambassador Lloyd explained.

Small Island Developing States constantly face several challenges when buying medicines for smaller populations. These include high prices and a lack of negotiating power. Pooled procurement combines several countries into a single unit to purchase medicines, vaccines, and other healthcare essentials. It plays an important role in reducing prices of goods and providing countries with collective bargaining power to navigate access to better quality products.

“The agreement brings together disparate small island states to drive the process of a pooled procurement mechanism that meets their needs first and foremost,” Dr Bernard Valentin, the Principal Secretary for Health said.

Participating countries, although they located on separate sides of the African continent, can take advantage of economies of scale provided by the alliance to surmount the challenges faced by population size. It is expected the agreement will give a boost to the procurement of medicines needed in the treatment of several illnesses, specifically non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

This unprecedented programme will be managed by the countries through a secretariat composed of Ministers from all participating SIDS.

“By the agreement, the Minister of Health of Seychelles will sit on the governance structure of the pooled procurement mechanism,” Dr Valentin added.

The structure also comprises of a secretariat and different programme committees. Seychelles is represented on these committees, with the Director of Pharmaceutical Services of Seychelles as part of the Technical Committee and the Deputy CEO of Health Care Agency as part of the Procurement Committee. They will work together with their counterparts from the other SIDS to ensure success of the programme.

The signing of the agreement has culminated years of discussions, which followed the adoption of Seychelles Declaration in sixth meeting of the SIDS Ministers of Health held in Seychelles in 2017 expressing commitment to implement pooled procurement.

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