Strengthening the pharmaceutical sector has been a long-term priority for the Pacific island countries and areas based on the recommendations of the meetings of Ministers and Directors of Health for the Pacific Island Countries held in Yanuca Island, Fiji, (March 1995), Rarotonga, Cook Islands (August 1997), and Palau (March 1999). The recommendations urged the Pacific island countries to, among other things; closely collaborate in the areas of rational use of medicines, supply and management of essential medicines, quality of medicinal products and drug information exchange. Although progress has been made in these areas, some common problems persist. These include irregular access to essential medicines, lack of quality assurance and effective regulation of pharmaceutical products, and irrational medicines use practices by health care providers and consumers. Besides, the geographical isolation of the islands and localities and low population densities present logistical problems and cost implications that are unique to Pacific island countries and areas.
A 5-year (2004-2008) collaborative programme between WHO and the European Commission (EC) namely "European Commission/African, Caribbean and Pacific island countries/World Health Organization (EC/ACP/WHO) Partnership on Pharmaceutical Policies" has been implemented, with the goal of improving the accessibility, quality and use of essential medicines and other pharmaceuticals in the African, Caribbean and Pacific island countries (ACP).