The Australian government provided AUD$1 million ($714,000) in funding to strengthen the national drug quality laboratories of Cambodia and Lao People’s Democratic Republic as the two countries combat the spread of falsified medicines, according to a press release issued on Wednesday by the Australian embassy in Phnom Penh.
The press release said the grant, which will be provided through the specialist NGO United States Pharmacopeia, will be provided over two years (2020-2022).
The press release further said Australia’s support will assist Cambodia’s National Health Product Quality Control Laboratory in improving its quality management systems, national laboratory strategy and business plan. The funding will also help increase the testing and reporting of substandard and falsified medicines (SFM).
Australian ambassador to Cambodia Pablo Kang said: “National quality control laboratories are critical to safeguard against substandard and falsified medical products. As such, Australia is proud to support Cambodia’s National Health Product Quality Control Laboratory to attain the World Health Organisation (WHO) prequalification accreditation.”
The press release added that Australia is a strong supporter of the WHO’s Global Surveillance and Monitoring System (GSMS) work to improve the quantity, quality and analysis of accurate data on SFM products, and to use that data for better prevention, detection and response to protect public health.
According to the press release, the GSMS is helping create a clearer picture of the type and extent of SFM products, with some cases numbering in the millions.
The press release said: “WHO’s 2017 GSMS report quoted studies indicating the observed failure rates of SFM products in low and middle-income countries is approximately 10 per cent: that is, potentially one in every 10 consumers being exposed to falsified antibiotics, anti-malarial, cancer and other medicines. More effective regulation is critical to ensuring access to safe, effective and quality medicines and vaccines.”
The embassy added that Australia’s latest support for Cambodia is in addition to the AUD$50 million it currently provides to the Health Equity and Quality Improvement Project.
Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.