Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director of the WHO South-East Asia Region, looks at how the region is tackling the challenges involved in providing access to safe, effective, quality and affordable medical products, which is fundamental to achieving universal health coverage.
“Since 2014, the WHO South-East Asia Region has pursued UHC as a flagship priority, with a specific focus on increasing access to medical products.”
Access for all to safe, effective, quality and affordable medicines, vaccines, diagnostics and devices (medical products) is a core part of universal health coverage (UHC) – when all people can access the healthcare they need, without financial hardship. Since 2014, the WHO SouthEast Asia Region has pursued UHC as a flagship priority, with a specific focus on increasing access to medical products. In addition to reducing end user costs and the impoverishment they can cause, regional member states are striving to ensure that all medical products are of adequate quality and are reliably available. Both outcomes will enhance trust in primary health care services and reduce the current tendency to bypass them in favour of tertiary facilities.
To ensure that all people in the region have access to quality medical products, the WHO is pursuing a two-pronged approach: first, to consolidate and build the capacity of national regulatory authorities and other agencies responsible for quality assurance, such as procurement agencies; and second, to enhance regional collaboration aimed at providing national level technical support…
Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh
Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region