ASEF Public Health Network, together with the Ministry of Health of the Kingdom of Cambodia, organised the Asia-Europe Virtual Forum on Substandard and Falsified Medicines (SFMs), which took place on 29-30 September 2020. The Forum was conducted virtually due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
34 ASEM Partners were represented during the Forum for a total of more than 200 participants on both days. The participants included officials from ASEM Partners’ Ministries of health and law enforcement sectors, international organisations such as WHO and UNODC, scholars as well as private sector representatives. This varied public converged to discuss the importance of combatting SFMs at the international scale.
ASEM Partners agreed on the fact that the production, commercialization, and demand for substandard and falsified medicines is a growing concern globally and should be on the first page of the international agenda. Moreover, the current COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating this trend – in this aspect, the forum called for inclusion of strategies against SFMs in the emergency response measures aimed at tackling the COVID-19.
Throughout the forum, ASEM Partners emphasised the importance of intersectoral and international collaboration to address the issues surrounding SFMs effectively. It was also stressed on several occasions that SFMs are produced and sold beyond the borders through online and physical channels that are hardly controllable by a single state. Only through systemic international and multi-sectoral cooperation, tangible results can be achieved.
Overall, this Asia-Europe Virtual Forum has successfully provided a unique opportunity for open dialogue between health and non-health officials among ASEM Partners. Moreover, this Forum is proof of a successful collaboration that we have forged between actors from governments, academia, international organisations, as well as the private sector.
The key recommendations from this Forum will help ASEM Partners in combatting the risks originating from SFMs and its negative impact on population health in ASEM and beyond. ASEM Partners cover 60% world population and economy, so our commitment to fight SFMs has the power to make a better change to the world.
The outcome of the forum will be elevated to the 13th ASEM Summit (ASEM13) hosted by Cambodia in 2021. A complete report of the event, including the key recommendations, will be released shortly, do visit the project page for further updates and information!