The Australian government has pledged to provide around $700,000 in funding to strengthen the national drug quality laboratories of Cambodia and Laos, according to a statement from the Australian Embassy released yesterday.
The grant, to be provided through the specialist Non-Government Organisation United States Pharmacopeia, will be provided over two years.
According to the statement, Australia’s support will assist Cambodia’s National Health Product Quality Control Laboratory to improve its quality management systems, national laboratory strategy and business plan, and increase testing and reporting of substandard and falsified (SF) medical products.
“National quality control laboratories are critical in safeguarding against substandard and falsified medical products. Australia is proud to support Cambodia’s National Health Product Quality Control Laboratory to attain WHO prequalification accreditation,” said Pablo Kang, Australian Ambassador to Cambodia.
Australia is a strong supporter of WHO’s Global Surveillance and Monitoring System’s (GSMS) work to improve the quantity, quality and analysis of accurate data on SF medical products, and to use that data for better prevention, detection and response to protect public health.
The GSMS is helping create a clearer picture of the type and extent of SF medical products, with some cases numbering in the millions.
WHO’s 2017 GSMS report quoted studies indicating the observed failure rates of SF medical products in low and middle-income countries is approximately 10 percent: that is, potentially one in every 10 consumers being exposed to falsified antibiotics, antimalarial, cancer and other medicines. More effective regulation is critical to ensuring access to safe, effective and quality medicines and vaccines.
Australia’s latest support for Cambodia is in addition to the $36 million they have provided to the Health Equity and Quality Improvement Project.
Last week, The Ministry of Health announced that Cambodia will host the 13th Asia-Europe Forum next year, which aims to combat SF medicines.
This year’s forum was held on September 29 and 30, via video conference. The forum included representatives from the 53 Asia-Europe member states – 30 representing the EU and 21 Asean – as well as a number of development partners, it said.
“In the meeting, the countries suggested WHO continue to support countries through cooperation, to eliminate falsified medicines,” it said.