Staff from the USAID-funded Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceutical Services (SIAPS) Program welcomed the opportunity to meet with visiting senior government delegates from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Nepal at the MSH Arlington, VA office. The delegates were participating in a U.S. Department of State-sponsored professional exchange program to combat counterfeit and substandard medication.[i]
The meeting laid the foundation to build on current SIAPS regulatory system strengthening activities in Bangladesh and three Central Asian countries by linking with additional national regulatory authorities throughout Central and South Asia. Delegates expressed interest in pharmacovigilance system strengthening activities and Pharmadex, a tool for on-line drug regulatory information management system. The delegate from the Drug Regulatory Agency of Bhutan, Mr. Sonam Dorji, highlighted the importance of regional linkages, mentioning that approximately 40% of Bhutan’s pharmaceutical products are imported from Bangladesh. Mr. Dorji wanted to explore how regulatory activities in Bangladesh could benefit Bhutan.
SIAPS Program Director, Francis Aboagye-Nyame, presented an overview of the SIAPS Program and other pharmaceutical management projects managed by Management Sciences for Health (MSH). The presentation generated questions from the Central Asian countries. Ms. Shynar Baidullayeva from the Ministry of Health Division for Pharmacological Examination of Medicines in Kazakhstan and Dr. Saltanat Moldoisaeva from the Kyrgyzstan Medical Service Delivery and Drug Policy Department asked how SIAPS selected the countries to work with and how countries could tap into regional efforts, particularly for pharmacovigilance systems strengthening and, in particular, pharmacovigilance for new regimens for drug-resistant TB in Central Asia and Ukraine.
SIAPS staff also presented an introduction to SIAPS regulatory strengthening activities, including challenges and opportunities, goal-setting, and tools available to national regulatory agencies. Presentations highlighted SIAPS collaboration with the Directorate General for Drug Administration in Bangladesh to strengthen regulatory strengthening activities, including medicine registration and pharmacovigilance. Dr. Jahangir Mollik, Director General of Drug Administration in Bangladesh, shared his experiences with the other delegates.
All delegates received the Managing Access to Medicines and Health Technologies (MDS-3) book, Pharmacovigilance Systems in Five Asian Countries: A Comparative Analysis, Safety of Medicines in Sub-Saharan Africa: Assessment of Pharmacovigilance Systems and their Performance, as well as information on Pharmadex.
[i] “Program to Increase Counterfeit and Substandard Medication Prevention Capacity in South and Central Asia”, sponsored by U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES) and the Office of International Health and Biodefense (IHB) and arranged by Meridian International Center.