Dr Esperanza Briceño, Venezuela
In order to improve the Health Services in Venezuela, which were previously highly centralized and inefficient, a new health law has been developed. The aims of the reform were to improve surveillance, strengthen the role of the public sector, decentralize operational and enforcement work, and improve access to medicines. It seeks to do this through a unified, decentralized health system, directed by the Ministry of Health, with institutional and legal autonomy and participation from the community sector. Apart from ensuring the safety, efficacy and quality of medicine, the new law requires drug manufacturers and distributors to be competent, health professionals to be highly qualified, and information to be complete and impartial. The new health act makes the work of the regulatory authority transparent and participatory. It has also enabled the setting-up of independent advisory committees for the regulatory authority and gives the authority power to impose sanctions.
Drug regulation is an essential function of the state, and public health interests should prevail over professional or commercial interests. Health authorities should ensure the availability of essential medicines.