Meeting on Quality Assurance and Rational Use of Essential Medicines in the Pacific Island Countries. 14-17 February 2017, Nadi, Fiji
(2017; 134 pages)

Abstract
Access to and rational use of safe, effective and quality-assured essential medicines, vaccines and traditional and complementary medicines are an integral element in achieving equitable access to quality health services. Strengthening regulations and the efficiency of pharmaceutical systems will help countries in ensuring quality and efficiency of their health systems and the achievement of universal health coverage (UHC) and the Sustainable Development Goals. While the Pacific island countries have achieved substantial progress in developing national medicines policies, updating standard treatment guidelines and essential medicines lists, and launching national action plans on antimicrobial resistance (AMR), challenges remain. Small populations spread across thousands of square kilometres of ocean present a multitude of challenges in improving access to essential medicines in general and a sustainable supply system in particular. The subregional meeting of the heads of pharmacy departments in the Pacific was the first meeting of its kind to discuss cross-cutting issues around quality assurance and rational use of medical products including vaccines and traditional and complementary medicines. Twenty-three participants from thirteen countries (Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu) came together at the meeting. The objectives of the meeting were: 1) to identify challenges and critical controls in the system which safeguard access to quality essential medicines, vaccines and traditional medicines from market entry to distribution; 2) to share information on demand-driven overuse of medicines, in particular antibiotics, and to discuss the immediate and long-term steps in promoting rational use within the framework of a multisectoral national action plan on AMR; and 3) to identify practical, low-cost and sustainable solutions and build capacity for implementation of a progressive regulatory framework to strengthen pharmaceutical systems.
 
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