Friday, November 27, 2009

Ministry of Health Battles Counterfeit Medicine and Illegal Health Care Services

BY BUT H REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The Cambodian Ministry of Health has announced that counterfeit drugs and illegal health care service are still a major concern and threaten development and poverty reduction in Cambodia. This announcement was made by the Under Secretary of State Dr. Sea Huong, Representative for Dr. Mam Bunheng, Minister of Health, and also Chief of the Secretariat of the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Combating Counterfeit Medicines and Illegal Health Care Services in the Ministry of Health during a regional seminar on “Combating Counterfeit Drugs” in Phnom Penh on November 19.

The Under Secretary of State said that currently the counterfeit medicines, poor quality of medicines and illegal health care services are a main concern for the development of Cambodia as well as other developing countries in the world. He added that these problems are spreading out and seriously threatening peoples’ health and lives as well as ruining development, social economies and the daily living conditions of the people of Cambodia.

“Cambodia remains concerned about the use of counterfeit medicines, poor quality of medicines and illegal health care services. They not only threaten peoples’ health and lives but also ruin the social developments, social economies, and daily living conditions of people in Cambodia as well as other developing countries in the world,” he said during his opening remarks at the seminar.

Dr. Sea Huong emphasized that to take measures and actions against the counterfeit drugs, so far the Royal Government of Cambodia under the leadership of Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen, has been working hard in combating the counterfeit medicines, poor quality of medicines and illegal health care services in Cambodia. He said that the government has also created the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Combating Counterfeit Medicines and Illegal Health Care Services to fight against fake drugs, illegal medicines and other illegal health care services in Cambodia.

He added that the Ministry of Health has established a drug law for the purposes of raising awareness on the dangers of using fake medicines and illegal health care services in Cambodia; strengthening cooperation among ministries; exposing counterfeit drugs and illegal health care services in Cambodia; prohibiting the production, importation or distribution of counterfeit drugs; closing illegal drug stores; enforcing the implementation of law and amending the law on drug management; and decentralizing the management of pharmacies and depots in all provincial health departments in Cambodia.

Dr. Heng Bun Kiet, Deputy Director of the Department of Drugs and Foods (DDF) and Permanent Deputy Chief of the Secretariat of the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Combating Counterfeit Medicines and Illegal Health Care Services in the Ministry of Health, said that the factors that influence counterfeit medicine circulation are: drug smuggling, lack of knowledge and responsibility by border authorities, illegal drug stores, lack of cooperation between the DDF and importers, lack of cooperation between the Ministry of Health and the court, and an overall weakness in law enforcement.

Dr. Bun Kiet said that to combat counterfeit drugs and illegal health care services, the Ministry of Health will continue to cooperate with Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and other countries in the region and world in the future. He said that his ministry will exchange information with drug authorities in Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and other countries to identify counterfeit drugs being smuggled over Cambodia’s borders and seek support from health partners such as USAID, Global Fund, the World Health Organization, and others to combat the problem of counterfeit medicine.

He added that his ministry will also provide training for all health officers, drug sellers and to the extent possible for the general public, countrywide, on counterfeit medicine, poor quality medicine, illegal health care services and their related dangers in Cambodia.

According to the Ministry of Health’s statistics on pharmaceutical premises, there are a total of 7 manufacturers, 153 import and export companies, 566 pharmacies, 127 depots A, and 797 depots B, and 111 unlicensed drugs store in Cambodia. /////

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