Ensuring access to COVID-19 therapeutics in Pacific island countries and areas

Authors

  • Gereltuya Dorj World Health Organization Division of Pacific Technical Support, Suva, Fiji; Quality Use of Medicines and Pharmacy Research Centre, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9489-6829
  • Eva Mata Martinez World Health Organization Division of Pacific Technical Support, Suva, Fiji
  • Karen Hammad World Health Organization Division of Pacific Technical Support, Suva, Fiji; Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University, Nathan, Queensland, Australia; College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8909-3191
  • Biniam Getachew Kabethymer World Health Organization Division of Pacific Technical Support, Suva, Fiji
  • Nuha Mahmoud World Health Organization Division of Pacific Technical Support, Suva, Fiji

Keywords:

COVID-19, access, therapeutics, Pacific Islands, immunomodulating drugs, antiviral drugs, quality control

Abstract

Problem: As of November 2022, over 417 397 confirmed cases and 2631 deaths related to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) were reported in Pacific island countries and areas (PICs). Most PICs have faced challenges accessing therapeutics recommended for the treatment of COVID-19 due to their high demand worldwide and supply chain constraints.

Context: The World Health Organization (WHO) coordinates and provides tailored technical and operational support to 21 PICs. Since the start of the pandemic, WHO has worked with partners to establish a mechanism to ensure equitable access to three novel COVID-19 therapeutics (tocilizumab, molnupiravir and nirmatrelvir/ritonavir) for lower-income countries, including 11 eligible PICs.

Action: WHO coordinated the requests, procurement and distribution of the three novel therapeutics. In addition, WHO supported PICs by providing trainings in clinical management of COVID-19, developing critical supply needs estimates, and facilitating regulatory approval of clinical therapeutics, including emergency use authorization.

Lessons learned: The main barriers to procurement of novel COVID-19 therapeutics were identified as prolonged negotiations with licence holders, sourcing funding, the high cost of therapeutics and limited capacity to provide safety monitoring.

Discussion: Uninterrupted supply and availability of essential medicines in the Pacific region is dependent on external and local sourcing. To overcome procurement barriers and ensure access to novel COVID-19 therapeutics in PICs, WHO‘s pandemic support to Member States focused on strengthening regulatory requirements, safety monitoring and supply chain activities.

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Published

23-06-2023

How to Cite

1.
Dorj G, Mata Martinez E, Hammad K, Kabethymer BG, Mahmoud N. Ensuring access to COVID-19 therapeutics in Pacific island countries and areas. Western Pac Surveill Response J [Internet]. 2023 Jun. 23 [cited 2024 Jul. 16];14(2):7. Available from: https://ojs.wpro.who.int/ojs/index.php/wpsar/article/view/1000

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Section

Lessons from the Field

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