18 Aug Manufacturing sector to ramp up production
While far from the most powerful component of the economic engine, the manufacturing industry offers plenty of potential
Responsible for more than one in every ten jobs and now generating close to 5% of GDP, the manufacturing sector represents a crucial chapter of Guyana’s success story.
The sector’s scale is both wide and diverse, ranging from the output of staple foods such as rice and sugar, to traditional building materials and high-tech consumer goods, as well as cutting-edge pharmaceutical products.
Courtesy of its natural resources, Guyana has easy access to vital raw materials, with its favorable geographic, economic and cultural linkages with the Caribbean and South American markets a competitive advantage. This is supported by a competitive labor market with economical rates of pay and a flexible workforce with enhanced strategies established for capacity building and human resource development.
Earlier this year, President Ali revealed the country is looking to develop a vaccine production facility like BioNTech’s mRNA vaccine factory in Rwanda. Officials want to ensure regional health security in the event of another pandemic and feel the foundation of medical research and development manufacturing facilities will benefit people across the Caribbean.
“Most of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies originate in the developed world; and with prevention and the right treatment, most of the deaths in developing countries can be avoided,” President Ali said. “Yet, access by these countries to life saving medicines is being constrained by patent monopolies and overpriced medicines.”
With this in mind, Guyana has signed an intercontinental pact that should oil the wheels of local manufacturing development and enable pharmaceutical companies to produce medicines and vaccines for distribution across the wider region. A team from the EU will arrive in Guyana later this year to perform inspections and launch discussions on plans for the nation to become a regional hub for drugs and pharmaceutical manufacturing.
Known as the Pharmaceutical Equity for Global Public Health, the initiative — which includes Rwanda — aims to avoid a repeat of the COVID-19 outbreak that saw “rich developed countries place orders for and stockpile vaccines in excess of their needs while millions in poor developing countries remained unprotected”, the head of state added.
Signed during COP27 in Egypt, the key recommendation emanating from the meeting is an inter-governmental south-south cooperation initiative aiming at the development and manufacturing of 60% of all essential, contemporary pharmaceuticals for the populations of Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa within their respective continents by 2040.
Local emphasis on lifesaving vaccines
Initially, it is intended for the cooperation to focus on next generation oncological drugs, preventive and therapeutic vaccines, plus modalities for women’s health. It is also stipulated that all manufacturing sites related to the endeavor will be in full compliance with the relevant parts of the COP21 Paris Agreement.
“As I have said before, the developing world must never again find itself waiting in line for life-saving treatments, including vaccines,” President Ali continued. “We must never again, in the midst of any future global health crisis, be forced into extreme reliance on the rich countries for life-saving vaccines and medicines. The global south is not helpless. We are blessed with some of the most brilliant scientific minds and have the capabilities to develop medicines to prevent and treat health threats.”
His words were echoed by President von der Leyen of the European Commission, who said: “Health is a top priority for citizens, wherever they live. The EU is committed to supporting our African and Latin American and Caribbean partners in boosting their own capacity to produce vaccines, medicines and health technologies.
“This will increase the resilience of their health systems and contribute to economic growth. Thanks to close cooperation between all the necessary actors, the public authorities, the scientific community and the private sector, we will get there quicker.”
Described as a “truly historic moment” by international health chiefs, the agreement — which is open to many other countries in the three regions — aims to ensure that manufacturing capacity for medicines, diagnostics vaccines and other tools is no longer concentrated in the hands of too few nations.
“International networks can play a crucial role in expanding local production, such as this new partnership between Latin America and the Caribbean and Africa,” said World Health Organization Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “I welcome the communiqué, which emphasizes the importance of expanding not only manufacturing capacity, but also regulatory capacity, with technical expertize and the trust of communities.”