Speaking about this recent development In order to actively monitor the safety of registered drugs entering CARICOM Member States, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) now has in place a Medicine Quality Control and Surveillance Department (MQCSD)., Dr. Virginia Asin-Oostburg, CARPHA’s Director, Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control, stated, “This is the first meeting CARPHA is hosting with key regional partners of the Post Market Surveillance (PMS) programme that is organised by CARPHA’s MQCSD. We see this as an important milestone for CARPHA and its Member States.”
The importance of the CARPHA MQCSD as the only ISO/IEC 17025 accredited medicines quality control laboratory in the English-speaking Caribbean has been recognised as crucial to the Region. The department has embarked on a post market surveillance programme for medicines, which seeks to monitor the quality of selected medicines circulating in the pharmaceutical markets of participating CARPHA Member States. This will ensure that Member States have access to information which can be utilised to develop evidence-based approaches such as issuing of alerts, implementing risk reduction strategies, and overall management of national public health risks.
Given the limited resources and other challenges facing small island developing states such as CARICOM countries, the responsibilities related to regulatory systems are difficult to carry out single-handedly or individually. As such, in collaboration with other partners such as PAHO/WHO, CARPHA MQCSD will function as a critical part of a robust mechanism for regulating medicines in CARICOM.
Mrs. Jesse Schutt-Aine, Sub-regional Program Coordinator, Caribbean, PAHO/WHO stated, “PAHO is happy to be working with CARICOM and CARPHA and Member States on this initiative. Strong regulatory systems are the foundation for strong health systems. A strong health system is what’s needed for universal health, and universal health is essential for the attainment of the sustainable development goals.”
According to Schutt-Aine too, PAHO has been working on these issues for many years supporting the development of the Caribbean Pharmaceutical Policy, as well as a roadmap for a regional regulatory platform.
More recently PAHO has been working closely with CARICOM and CARPHA and Member States to advance the Caribbean Regulatory Systems – the regional regulatory system that is managed by CARPHA. Schutt-Aine acknowledged that “CARPHA as a regional public health platform that is transforming its drug testing laboratory into something that can enhance post market surveillance in the Region through risk based sampling of products in Caribbean markets.”
The introduction of the new surveillance programme will allow CARPHA MQCSD laboratory to monitor medicines such as those used for the control of non-communicable diseases and other medicines. This programme is aligned with CARICOM’s strategy of advancing initiatives for health and wellness by ensuring access to safe, reliable medicines thereby improving the quality of life of the Region. The Caribbean region will have access to information to undertake evidence-based approaches to enable warning, risk reduction and management of national public health risks.