OIC agrees to improve access to safe and affordable drugs

Halal vaccines were mentioned in the declaration as they were an area of concern among OIC member states. (AFP)
Updated 23 November 2018
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OIC agrees to improve access to safe and affordable drugs

  • Eventual goal is boosting peace and prosperity
  • Halal vaccines area of interest

JAKARTA: The Organization of Islamic Cooperation agreed Thursday to help improve access to safe and affordable medication in Muslim countries, many of which remain the least developed in the world.
A declaration about medical regulations and issues was adopted by 32 of the 57-member countries present at a meeting in Jakarta.
Penny Lukito, chairwoman of Indonesia’s National Agency of Drug and Food Control (BPOM), said the goal was to eventually boost “welfare, prosperity and peace in OIC countries.”
Delegates also agreed to adopt an action plan to strengthen the capacity of regulatory agencies and to create working groups for specific issues, such as halal vaccines or counterfeit and substandard medication. The groups would meet every two years.
Lukito said halal vaccines were mentioned in the declaration as they were an area of concern among OIC member states.
“Halal vaccine as a medication is optional. It is different from food because of the emergency factor in medication. However, there are still many debatable aspects in regards to halal vaccines,” she said.
Mustafa Albani, head of the Palestinian delegation, said he learnt a lot from BPOM’s programs in preventing, detecting and responding to counterfeit and substandard drugs. Palestine lacks control over its borders, so cannot prevent fake drugs from entering its territory.
“Indonesia’s experience is very powerful. Maybe the opportunity to implement such programs would have higher outcomes if it is adopted in a small country like Palestine,” he said.
Febrian Ruddyard, from Indonesia’s foreign ministry, said around 70 percent of OIC countries lack a drug regulatory framework and monitoring agencies that report directly to the countries’ top executives. Those without a framework have to import medicines and vaccines through the World Health Organization and UNICEF.
“Human security is important and through this meeting we touched upon issues that people in OIC countries have to deal with,” he said.
He also said OIC countries were an untapped market for Indonesia’s medicine and vaccine producers.
Indonesia, Iran, Senegal, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh, Tunisia and Egypt are the seven OIC countries that can produce vaccines. Out of the seven Indonesia, through its state-owned vaccine producer Bio Farma, and Senegal are among those the WHO recognizes.
However, Senegal only produces one vaccine, specifically used to meet demands in Africa to prevent yellow fever, while Bio Farma produces 12 that are distributed in 141 countries including 49 OIC countries, according to the company’s chief Rahman Roestan.
“In addition to vaccines, we have the potential to produce herbal medicines because of our rich biodiversity and this is what other countries don’t have,” he told journalists.
The two-day meeting in Jakarta was also attended by the WHO, UNICEF, the Islamic Development Bank as well as vaccine and medicine manufacturers.


Mexico demands apology for colonial ‘abuses,’ Spain hits back

Handout photo released by the Mexican presidency showing Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador answering questions during a press conference at the Palacio Nacional, in Mexico City on March 25, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 26 March 2019
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Mexico demands apology for colonial ‘abuses,’ Spain hits back

  • “The government of Spain deeply regrets that the letter the Mexican president sent to his majesty the king, whose contents we firmly reject, has been made public,” it said in a statement

MEXICO CITY: The 500-year-old wounds of the Spanish conquest were ripped open afresh on Monday when Mexico’s president urged Spain and the Vatican to apologize for their “abuses” — a request Madrid said it “firmly rejects.”
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, an anti-establishment leftist, reopened the debate over Spain’s centuries of dominance in the New World with a video posted to social media, urging Spanish King Felipe VI and Pope Francis to apologize for the conquest and the rights violations committed in its aftermath.
“I have sent a letter to the king of Spain and another to the pope calling for a full account of the abuses and urging them to apologize to the indigenous peoples (of Mexico) for the violations of what we now call their human rights,” Lopez Obrador, 65, said in the video, filmed at the ruins of the indigenous city of Comalcalco.
“There were massacres and oppression. The so-called conquest was waged with the sword and the cross. They built their churches on top of the (indigenous) temples,” he said.
“The time has come to reconcile. But let us ask forgiveness first.”
Spain’s reaction was swift and unequivocal.
“The government of Spain deeply regrets that the letter the Mexican president sent to his majesty the king, whose contents we firmly reject, has been made public,” it said in a statement.
“The arrival, 500 years ago, of Spaniards to present Mexican territory cannot be judged in the light of contemporary considerations,” it said.
“Our two brother nations have always known how to read our shared past without anger and with a constructive perspective, as free peoples with a shared history and extraordinary influence.”

Lopez Obrador took office in December after a landslide election win that represented a firm break with Mexico’s traditional political parties.
A folksy populist, he pulls no punches in going after traditional elites — but had so far cultivated cordial relations with Spain, including during a visit to Mexico City by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez earlier this year.
Lopez Obrador made the remarks during a visit to his native Tabasco state, in southern Mexico.
He was later due to visit the nearby city of Centla. On March 14, 1519, the site was the scene of one of the first battles between Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes and the indigenous peoples of the land now known as Mexico.
With the help of horses, swords, guns and smallpox — all unknown in the New World at the time — Cortes led an army of less than 1,000 men to defeat the Aztec empire, the start of 300 years of Spanish rule over Mexico.