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WHO and Vietnam - acces to essential medicines

Improving access to essential medicines in vietnam

For the past 10 years Vietnam has obtained many positive achievements in terms of healthcare and protection. In the pharmaceutical field the medicinal production, supply and use constantly increased:

Total value of use from 2001 to 2009: raised from 472,356,000 US$ to 1,696,135,000 US$Medicine expenditure per capita: from 6.0 US$ to 19.77 US$Domestic production meets 49% of needs. Most of them are essential and generic medicines.
Number of retail outlets : 41,849 for 86 milion population.

First Essential Medicine list of Vietnam was adopted in 1985 and so far been revised 5 times responding to Vietnam's practical situation and illness patterns in each period. Current 5th list (2005 year) comprises 355 medicines with 314 active substances and 94 traditional medicines. Now the EM list of 6th edition is preparing.
Although pharmaceutical sector achieved big sucess in health care, Vietnam still faces many challenges on access to essential medicines, especially in mountainuos and rural areas.Medicine prices remain high in comparison to the Intrnational Reference Prices and neighbour countries; patients continue to bear the cost. The decentralized system has posed enormous challanges in terms of regulations, rational use and in ensuring safety and quality. Accession of Vietnam to WTO, economic reform have also directly affected the pharmaceutical sector.

Vietnam government again confirms his promise to pursue pharmaceutical sector as main objective in his social-economic program of development, in particular to ensure that essential medicines of assured safety, efficacy and quality are available, affordable and actually provided, especially at the grassroots level. To do this, it would need to confront the complex issues of medicine pricing,patent barriers, low commitment of financing and inefficient systems and practices in the procurement, supply and use of medicines.

A convergence of support from key sectors is needed. As an initial step, Vietnam convenes a forum among key stakeholders and advocates for a focused action towards improving access to essential medicines (EM).

In Hanoi, 23 June 2010 such meeting between Ministry of Health of Vietnam and WHO office in Hanoi was carried.
- Dr.Nguyen Quoc Trieu, the Minister of Health, said in coming time we should consider conducting:
1. Developing a new list of essential medicines.
2. Assuring sufficient EM for treatment; conducting intervention to stabilize and control prices.
3. Encouraging investment and reseach of inovated medicines to meet local needs
4. Further develop policies and mechanisms on encouraging local and international investment.
5. To enhance knowledge of national and international laws and consolidate collaboration to achive pertinent balance between intellectual property right protection and access to affordable EM.
6. To continue strengthening and improving effectiveness of communication on EM.

- Dr. Jean-Marc OlivÐ, WHO representative in Hanoi congratulated the meeting and underlined the challenges for poor people in Vietnam as well as in developing countries to access to EM.
- Dr. Budiono Santoso,WHO/WPRO representative with the report on combating counterfeit and substandard medicine in Mekong region. WHO framework for improving EM in Vietnam.
- Prof. Richard Laing, WHO office in Geneve, explained generic policies as an international perspective.
- Dr. Souly Pranouvong, USAID, showed Model medicine quality monitoring in Mekong subregion: progress, challenges and suggested solutions.
- Ms. Karin Timmermans, WHO technical officer, reported TRIPS and medicines: selected country experiences.
- Dr. HeimanWertheim, Oxford University Clinical research Unit, underlined Antimicrobial resistance- a threat to EM.
- Mr. Saul Walker, Senior Policy Advisor of DFID-UK, talk about Medicines transparancy alliance.
- Ms. Tas Nilgul, UNIDO, about UNIDO/ WHO collaboration: Supporting the Government of Vietnam in promotion of local pharmaceutical production.
- PEPFAR/USAID explained Supply Chain Management System (SCMS) and support to the pharmaceutical area in Vietnam.

Total 14 reports shown the interest of stakeholders in collaboration with Vietnam in the improvement of access EM and this meeting is just begining stage for collaboration.