MINSK, 22 November (BelTA) – The international statement on expanding access to affordable and quality assured medicines and diagnostics will help coordinate efforts of Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) states to combat severe communicable diseases, Belarus’ Healthcare Minister Valery Malashko told a BelTA journalist on the sidelines of the regional consultation on these issues that is coming to an end in Minsk.
One of key events of the forum was signing a joint statement by the UNAIDS, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the WHO Regional Office for Europe, the Stop TB Partnership, the Belarusian Healthcare Ministry and other countries of the region. “The Minsk agreements are designed to reaffirm commitment of all the countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia to improve access to medicines to treat severe infectious diseases, like tuberculosis, hepatitis and HIV. In fact, we are talking not only about medicines but also about diagnostic solutions to identify and monitor patients’ conditions during treatment and follow-up care,” Valery Malashko said.
Another important result of the forum was Minsk’s accession to the Paris Declaration to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic (the agreement was signed by Minsk Mayor Andrei Shorets and Tim Martineau, UNAIDS Acting Deputy Executive Director). “This will guarantee that the city will strive to curb the HIV infection, create a healthy environment for local residents and foreigners. The agreement mobilizes executive authorities, labor collectives and public associations,” Valery Malashko added.
The minister underlined that a series of bilateral meetings and talks took place on the sidelines of the conference. Many countries showed interest in purchasing Belarusian medicines. “We are supplying Belarusian drugs to 33 countries of the world. By the end of the year we expect a substantial increase in export,” he said.
UNAIDS Acting Deputy Executive Director Tim Martineau emphasized the importance of the international statement signed in Minsk. “The document is a program of tangible action in the region. I think we will learn many lessons while implementing it and the new knowledge will be of use to other countries,” he said. He also believes that development of a domestic pharmaceutical industry is a truly important instrument of fighting the above-mentioned diseases alongside other mechanisms. As it was noted during the meeting, some progress has been achieved since signing the first statement (aka Minsk-1). The third statement is to be adopted in several years following the implementation of the measures provided by the second action plan.
WHO Regional Director for Europe Zsuzsanna Jakab noted that an agreement was reached with countries and international partners on stepping up efforts to improve access to affordable and quality assured medicines and healthcare solutions, and ensure their fair distribution. “Political commitment of governments and financial sustainability of healthcare programs are also important,” Zsuzsanna Jakab said.
Minsk is hosting the Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) Regional Consultation on Expanding Access to Affordable and Quality Assured Antiretroviral and Antituberculosis Medicines on 20-22 November. The event is designed to assess the progress and discuss issues while implementing the Minsk Statement of the Healthcare Ministries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia “HIV and Tuberculosis: Treatment For All” passed in November 2016.
During the opening of the third day of the consultation Belarus’ Deputy Premier Igor Petrishenko pointed to the country’s focus on promoting welfare and upgrading the domestic healthcare system. He also read out the welcoming address of the Belarusian president. Taking part in the forum are healthcare ministers, representatives of drug procurement authorities and watchdogs regulating the pharmaceutical market from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Albania, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, and Estonia. International organizations, key partners, experts of pharmaceutical companies, procurement agencies were also invited.
The event has been organized by the Belarusian Healthcare Ministry with support of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the WHO Regional Office for Europe and the Stop TB Partnership.