Castries, Saint Lucia. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) to strengthen procedures that ensure the safety, quality and efficacy of medicines in the region. Dr. Didacus Jules, Director General of the OECS and Dr. Joy St. John, Executive Director of CARPHA were both present for the official signing which took place on Thursday July 28th, 2022, at the OECS Commission in Castries, Saint Lucia. The MOU formalises a long-standing relationship between the OECS Pooled Procurement Service (PPS) and CARPHA.
The Medicines Quality Control and Surveillance Department (MQCSD) and the Caribbean Regulatory System (CRS) are the departments responsible for guiding the procurement, testing, registration and monitoring of medicines at CARPHA. The main aims of the agreement are to strengthen the approval processes of medicines procured through the OECS/PPS, by the CRS and to reaffirm the long-standing relationship with the MQCSD.
Speaking at the Ceremony Dr. Jules stated that the MOU further strengthens the already excellent working relationship between the two organisations that have a shared commitment to the needs of the region (OECS/Wider Caribbean) especially in healthcare delivery. According to Dr. Jules, ‘’The formalisation of this relationship with an MOU will strengthen the trust of the Member States in the medicines used in our public health systems within Member States of the OECS and CARPHA. I consider the relationship with CARPHA and the OECS to be an exemplar of intra-regional collaboration that has evolved significantly since the pandemic. We have walked every step of this perilous journey together, clasping hands tighter whenever the going went rougher.’’
In her remarks, Dr. St John stated that the agreement would strengthen the relationship between the two agencies by, “supporting and improving access to quality assured medicines, and the monitoring of their safety, quality and efficacy in the OECS, other CARPHA Member States and in the global community.” She noted the challenges that may be faced by small markets like those in the Caribbean and commented that, “The OECS’ procurement service leads the Region in its approach to pooled procurement to optimise economies of scale to tackle this obstacle. To this end, CARPHA is pleased to strengthen this work at a technical level.” Dr. St John concluded by noting the unique nature of the collaboration, giving CARPHA’s commitment to sustaining the partnership and commending the relevant stakeholders for their contribution.
This agreement between the OECS/PPS and CARPHA will enable the OECS citizens to be confident that medicines procured for use in the Region are of the highest standards and quality.
The OECS/PPS is expected to begin the procurement of medicines approved by the CRS in 2024.
CARPHA and the OECS are confident that this agreement will be fruitful as both agencies continue to serve the citizens of the OECS and the wider Caribbean.