The initiative – which was announced at the European Development Days last week by Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission president, and Pedro Sánchez, Spain’s prime minister – will cover the manufacturing of vaccines, medicines and other health technologies, ‘that will complement and further enhance social, economic and scientific ties between the two regions.’
It is also designed to 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.
Building smart and sustainable connections for health
The launch builds on discussions at the EU-LAC leaders meeting in December 2021, with the European Commission noting that diversification of global pharmaceutical production is essential for global health security.
“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,” as per a statement announcing the new partnership.
The initiative will incorporate a range of partners and support existing regional efforts (In particular the Plan for Self-Sufficiency in Health Matters, set out by September last year, 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 three areas:
- Private-sector engagement, supply chains and finance for manufacturing capacity
- Technology transfer, research and innovation
- Regulatory frameworks and the bright environment
The Commission will engage with Latin American partners, EU Member States, international organizations 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.
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, says the EC.
Its 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”.