Mexico City, 24 October 2023 (PAHO)- During his visit to Mexico, the Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Jarbas Barbosa, underscored that the COVID-19 crisis brought to the fore the need to diversify the production of healthcare technologies to ensure equitable access and advance towards universal health in the Americas.

During a keynote lecture at the XVIII International Pharmacovigilance Meeting of the Americas, held in the Mexican capital and organized by the Mexican Federal Commission for Protection against Health Risks (COFEPRIS), Dr. Barbosa explained that the pandemic highlighted the need for regional collaboration to reduce the import dependence for medical supplies.

“PAHO is collaborating with its Member States to expand the development and production of healthcare technologies, including through a greater and more effective use of regional mechanisms such as PAHO’s Revolving Fund and Strategic Fund,” Dr. Barbosa said.

He also emphasized that, in order to increase local production of medicines and health technologies, “it is necessary to have robust regulatory systems that can address the region’s needs in a coordinated manner.”

The PAHO Director recognized the success of initiatives across the region in recent years to enhance the regulatory capacities of healthcare systems, including the identification of eight National Regulatory Authorities of Regional Reference.

However, he warned that there are still challenges to strengthen regulatory systems in the region and reduce the existing gaps.

“Regional integration requires a shared vision and a clear willingness from diverse stakeholders to promote the strengthening of regulatory systems. This is the only way to minimize obstacles and enhance regional cooperation with the aim of ensuring equitable access to high-quality healthcare technologies,” Dr. Barbosa said.

The PAHO Director’s participation in the pharmacovigilance event is part of his official visit to Mexico this week, during which he held meetings with the Secretary of Health Jorge Alcocer, and Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Alicia Bárcena.

Dr. Barbosa’s agenda in the country also includes a meeting with the Head of Government of Mexico City, Martí Batres, and meetings with authorities from the National Commission on Mental Health and Addictions (CONASAMA), Mexico City’s Ministry of Health, the National Academy of Medicine of Mexico and the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS), as well as with representatives of civil society organizations working on health.

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