Panel Discussion 4: Access to Medicines
Permanent Mission of Fiji to United Nations Geneva
Statement of Fiji at a panel discussion on good practises and key challenges relevant to access to medicines as one of the fundamental elements of the right to everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health (accessible to persons with disabilities)
Human Rights Council
Fiji thanks the members of the panel for their contributions to this important subject.
Fiji is one of the few countries in the world with a guaranteed Constitutional right to health. Section 38 of the Fijian Constitution guarantees the right of every person to health, and to the conditions and facilities necessary to good health and to health care services, including reproductive health care.
The Fijian Government has continued its efforts in improving the health outcomes of all Fijians by the opening of new hospitals, new healthcare centres and new clinics across the islands and especially in those rural and maritime areas that have been neglected over the years, and have also invested into the upgrading of existing health care infrastructure.
As like other Pacific Small Island countries, Fiji is dependent on pharmaceuticals and has limited production capacity. In Fiji, there is only one pharmaceutical company that is involved in domestic production and as such, the provision of affordable and quality access to medicine for every Fijian is paramount to the attainment of the highest standard of physical and mental health.
Recognising the importance of access to medicine, in 2015, the Fijian Government introduced the Free Medicine Program for any Fijian with a household income of less than $20,000 a year, which is aimed at ensuring that the most vulnerable of families have access to medicine.
In its further efforts in ensuring access to medicine, a few weeks ago the Fijian Parliament approved the ratification of the Amendment to the Protocol of the TRIPS Agreement. The amendment seeks to permanently incorporate into the TRIPS Agreement additional flexibilities to grant special compulsory licenses for the export of medicines. The importance of this is to ensure that there will be further opportunities for Fiji to procure medicines from a range of suppliers at a lower price. It will also address concerns of the occasional shortage of medicine in Fiji. With the Governments new measure to provide free medicine to the public, ratification will enable Fiji to source generic medicines that are on the mandatory list for distribution, and to further enable a substantive right to health for Fijians.