The New Times (Kigali)

2 March 2011

East Africa: Regional Health Experts Meet in Kampala

Over 80 officials from partner states of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) are meeting in Kampala to review progress made in facilitating access to medicine.

Rwanda is among the 19 member states that constitute the regional grouping.

Stephen Karangizi, the COMESA assistant Secretary General, called upon participants to come up with a system of producing medicine in the region so as to ensure sustainability in availing medicine to the people.

"We have an opportunity to elaborate a system for trading that medicine throughout the COMESA free trade area, which as you know has been one regional market since 2000," Karangizi said.

He added that the strength of such a regional market for the private sector is because it provides a market large enough for the economies of scale to be utilized, adding that this in turn increases jobs and incomes.

While opening the workshop yesterday, Uganda's Minister of State for Trade Gaggawala Wambuzi called on COMESA to borrow a leaf from the East African Community's development of a pharmaceutical manufacturing plan of action for 2011 -2016.

"COMESA can also learn from our establishment of the EAC Pharmaceutical Association to promote the interest of the private sector in this industry."

The meeting is expected to assist in guiding member states as they implement the COMESA policy on intellectual property rights and cultural products in order to promote their development objectives.

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