The OECS Commission is working to continue to drive down the cost of medicines via the OECS Pharmaceutical Procurement Service (OECS-PPS) which in 2016/17 purchased approximately $25 million worth of medical products, which resulted in aggregate cost-savings of $5 million for OECS member states.
Financial savings in the health sector was just one topic raised at the fourth Council of OECS Health Ministers meeting convened in Martinique from Nov. 10 – 11, to examine ways to share resources, drive down health costs and improve access to health services for all citizens across the OECS.
OECS Director General Dr. Didacus Jules at the formal opening said the Caribbean had changed dramatically post Hurricane Maria and there were natural opportunities to collaborate to deliver better health outcomes across the OECS.
“We are meeting here in Martinique at this critical time and Martinique has deliberately been chosen for this meeting because your health system is the most sophisticated in the OECS and there are many lessons to be learned from your practices. A lesson learned from [our experiences with] Irma and Maria is that alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. Our geographic proximity is both a common vulnerability but it also enables us to respond with neighborly urgency,” said Dr. Jules.
Key agenda items being discussed include OECS Member States and International Health Regulations; Evaluation of OECS Member States Response to Non-Chronic Communicable Diseases (NCDs); Health Human Resource Sharing in the Eastern Caribbean; Regional Health Information Strategy; and Health Services Cooperation in Martinique.
Ministers and technical personnel discussed the annual work program of the OECS-PPS and will also explore expanding the OECS-PPS product portfolio to include the pooled procurement of laboratory supplies, particularly viral load reagents for monitoring people living with HIV/AIDS.
The meeting also tabled the OECS-PPS Annual Report which confirms that the availability of medicines in OECS member states is satisfactory and citizens have reliable access to essential medicines to sustain their health care.
The OECS commitment to solidarity in health will be formalized at the conclusion of the gathering with the Fort-de-France Declaration on Health.
The fourth Council of OECS Health Ministers meeting convened in Martinique on Friday, Nov. 10.