At the European Development Days, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, and Pedro Sánchez, Prime Minister of Spain, launched a new European Union – Latin America and Caribbean partnership on local manufacturing of vaccines, medicines and other health technologies, and strengthening health systems resilience, that will complement and further enhance social, economic and scientific ties between the two regions. It will boost Latin America’s manufacturing capacity, foster equitable access to quality, effective, safe and affordable health products and help strengthen health resilience in the region to tackle endemic and emerging diseases, and enhance capacities to cope with non-communicable diseases.
President von der Leyen said: “Europe and Latin America are solid allies with strong historical, commercial, economic and social ties. Under the EU’s Global Gateway Strategy we are deepening our cooperation even further in the vital area of healthcare. I believe in the transformative power of this partnership that connects the talent and innovation of the New Continent with the strengths of the EU. Investment in health is an investment in prosperity and wellbeing”.
Prime Minister Sánchez highlighted: “The war in Ukraine shows us that not everyone shares our values and principles. Therefore, we must walk together with other regions with which we do share them, and do so hand in hand, using our understanding as a source of global transformation. The initiative we are launching is a European recognition of the needs of Latin America and the Caribbean and an example of the European Union’s willingness to renew the way it engages with the region”.
Building smart and sustainable connections for health
The initiative, which is developed and will be implemented together with a broad range of LAC partners, will support ongoing regional efforts, including the Plan for self-sufficiency in health matters, endorsed by the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in September 2021, which sets out lines of action to strengthen capacities to produce and distribute vaccines and medicines in the region.
The partnership will follow a comprehensive approach similar to the Team Europe initiative on manufacturing and access to vaccines, medicines and health technologies in Africa, covering supply, demand and an enabling environment for sustainability. It will focus on continent-wide actions with potential to underpin systems and drive change on:
- Private-sector engagement, supply chains and finance for manufacturing capacity
- Technology transfer, research and innovation
- Regulatory frameworks and the enabling environment
These actions may soon be complemented with additional support at regional and country level.
The partnership represents an opportunity to pursue public health goals, stimulate growth and decent jobs in both regions, bring in private sector innovation, facilitate trade, diversify global value chains, and reinforce scientific, diplomatic and human bonds between Europe and Latin America.
As discussed at the EU-LAC leaders meeting in December 2021, diversification of global pharmaceutical production is essential for global health security and the European Union is keen to contribute to the success of Latin American pharmaceutical, biotech and medtech industries in an ecosystem conducive to ensuring equitable access to quality products.
The Commission will closely engage with Latin American partners, EU Member States, international organisations such as the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UN ECLAC), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and the private sector. A number of EU Member States, led by Spain, have indicated their interest in joint activities under this partnership.