DUBAI: The UAE and the UN Industrial Development Organization is setting up a biomedical industrial center, amid global pressure to strengthen pandemic preparedness.
The new center aims to boost the manufacturing capabilities of the life sciences sector, UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology Sultan bin Ahmed Al-Jaber said.
It comes as the world faces increased pressure to strengthen pandemic response strategies, given the crippling effects of COVID-19.
“(The center) will foster cooperation between governments and biomedical enterprises, and better prepare the world for responding to future healthcare threats,” he told a press conference during the Global Manufacturing and Industrialization Summit in Dubai on Tuesday.
No figures were disclosed for the tie-up, but officials said it will engage the private sector to make the center work.
“It is too early to say how much money will be allocated,” Badr Al-Olama, chairman of the GMIS organizing committee said, but emphasized the role of private biomedical companies in the global initiative.
“The more important thing is to bring in the companies – the Pfizers, the Modernas, the Abbotts and GSKs, to come and be part of the center, alongside the governments,” he explained.
One key goal of the center is to ensure inclusivity in the distribution of essential medical needs to developing countries.
“The UAE is the perfect location for the center because of the capacity to reach out to so many regions, and the experience already exists,” a representative of UNIDO said.
In one of the panel sessions at the Dubai event, Namibia’s Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa discussed her country’s struggle to access COVID-19 vaccines.
The UAE’s Al-Olama said the center will address the issue of developing countries equitable access to vaccines and equipment, mentioning his country’s response to allow the export of N95 masks when most countries restricted it.
This policy approach, Al-Olama said, as well as the UAE’s advanced infrastructure make up for an effective central hub for the life sciences sector.