Emergency in Central America, the Caribbean and Mexico - INCB's call for assistance of Governments in expediting the export of medicines

Vienna, 20 September 2017 - Recently, a series of natural disasters have hit the Central America and Caribbean region and Mexico, which have resulted in the loss of life, massive destruction, and adverse consequences for access to medications. Immediate action, support, and response are needed for this emergency. The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) is of the view that the countries in the region affected by the hurricanes and earthquakes will require, inter alia, urgent shipments of medications, including medicines containing internationally controlled narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.

In the wake of these hurricanes and earthquakes in the Central America and Caribbean region and Mexico, INCB has reminded all Governments that in acute emergencies, such as this, it is possible to render simplified control procedures for the export, transportation, and provision of medicinal products containing controlled substances. Thus, in this circumstance, competent national authorities may permit the export of medicines containing narcotic drugs and/or psychotropic substances to the affected countries even in the absence of the corresponding import authorizations and/or estimates. Urgent deliveries need not be included in the estimates of the receiving countries affected by the natural disasters (click here for the circular letter to Governments, Español).


One of the first Caribbean islands affected by the hurricanes was Barbuda, where 95% of the structures were destroyed. Currently, in Barbuda, there are no human inhabitants as they have been evacuated to the nearby island of Antigua. According to Charles Fernandez,  Foreign Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, "you could put all the people back in Barbuda today…but then you'll have a medical crisis on your hands." Barbuda is among the many Caribbean islands that have experienced devastating consequences from the recent hurricanes. Accessing and properly storing medicine has been impacted as people continue to be displaced from their homes and evacuated from their communities.

Competent national authorities may find further information on this subject in the Guidelines for the International Provision of Controlled Medicines for Emergency Medical Care developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) in cooperation with the INCB.INCB invites the competent national authorities to contact its secretariat for more information or to provide assistance to facilitate the supply of controlled substances to the affected countries.

Photo credit and description: Photo of Hurricane Irma in Antigua and Barbuda taken by UNDAC/Silva Lauffer.

Photo link: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=57543#.WcF6x8gjHIU

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