New Delhi: The World Health Organization has called on countries across the South-East Asia Region to take bold action to ensure all people everywhere have access to safe, efficacious, quality and affordable medical products, laying particular emphasis on the need to leverage collective strengths via greater intercountry cooperation.
“Overcoming barriers and ensuring all people everywhere can access essential medicines is one of WHO South-East Asia’s priority areas of work, and is vital to achieving universal health coverage, and with it the Sustainable Development Goal of health and wellbeing for all. Significant progress has been made in recent years, including the creation of the South-East Asia Regulatory Network (SEARN) in 2016, which pools the Region’s regulatory resources to enhance the safety and quality of medicines. We need to build on that progress and strengthen regional cooperation in a range of areas to further address this critical issue,” Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region, said.
Across the South-East Asia Region, an estimated 65 million people are pushed into poverty due to out-of-pocket health-care payments, with the cost of medicines being one of the main causes.
Poor-quality or unsafe medicines likewise affects peoples’ ability to access the treatment they need, when they need it, while weak supply chains and inefficient procurement provide similar barriers.