COMESA and ARC partner to strengthen health supply chains
Africa’s public health supply chain institution – and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in Cape Town to strengthen public health supply chains by enhancing medicine access in the region.
COMESA is a regional economic community of 21 member states that work together to achieve sustainable economic and social progress through increased regional cooperation and integrated economic development.
ARC is a not-for-profit, Africa-based organisation that strengthens public health systems by providing independent, expert advisory and enablement services to African health ministries.
As part of the MoU between COMESA and ARC, the two organisations have agreed to work together to establish a Health Desk for COMESA. Part of the Health Desk’s role will be to develop recommendations for resilient national supply chain infrastructure among COMESA member states.
Faustin Mukena, Chief Operating Officer at ARC, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of inter-regional cooperation in the supply of essential medicines, and having a centralised Health Desk in East Africa can facilitate better collaboration, knowledge-sharing and expertise around medicine access in the region, so we are delighted that the need has been acknowledged and that we are moving forward to ensure more people have access to medicine.”
COMESA Secretary General Chileshe Mpundu Kapwepwe, who signed the MoU on behalf of the regional body, hailed the agreement.
She said: “The areas of cooperation outlined in the MoU are very pertinent, critical and timely as they seek to address the key challenges that COMESA member States continue to face, especially regarding public health, and the gender equality activities. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that partnership and solidarity are essential for confronting shared public health threats.”
The MoU also includes an agreement to cooperate in areas with shared interests. As part of this, ARC has committed to providing advisory services around framing and advancing gender equality and increasing the profile and proportion of women in public health sector procurement and supply chain services. COMESA will also leverage ARC’s expertise on gender and women’s rights to support capacity building and promote research on gender mainstreaming and women empowerment in policies, programmes and projects by COMESA.
ARC will also provide advisory services on local and regional manufacturing of medicines and other health products and market access to these manufactured products, including supporting research initiatives.
As part of the MoU, COMESA will promote innovations (for example, engagement with the private sector engagement and outsourcing) for resilient supply chains in the public health sector through the COMESA Research Innovation Forum. It will also promote engagement with the private sector for services in public health through the COMESA Business Council and COMESA Investment Agency.