CARICOM Health Body Aims To Improve Caribbean Patient Care


PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — The Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) says the establishment of a Caribbean Regulatory System (CRS) will improve conditions for patients in the region to receive safe, efficacious, high quality drugs.

“Access to safe, efficacious and good quality drugs is a human right which CARPHA as the regional public health organisation is committed to facilitating,” CARPHA executive director Dr C James Hospedales told a capacity-building workshop on the regulation of medicines.

CARPHA, in collaboration with the Guyana-based Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat and the World Health Organization/Pan American Health Organization (WHO/PAHO), has established the CRS.

Hospedales explained that the CRS will focus on providing regulatory assurance to essential generic medicines for the region.

“Through the CRS, CARPHA will be able to help countries perform functions such as reviewing, approving and monitoring medicines, in a timely manner, allowing patients faster access to quality drugs,” he said, adding that it would also help to reduce cost of medicines to consumers and the health system, thereby improving accessibility and affordability.

With only five CARICOM countries currently conducting a review of safety, quality, and efficacy of drugs, PAHO Country Representative for Trinidad and Tobago, Dr Bernadette Theodore-Gandi, emphasised the need for strong regulatory systems for medicines.

She said that limited capacity in the regulation of medicines can have several negative results, including the proliferation of substandard and falsified medicines, warning this “can injure and kill people”.

The CRS is a new value-added service provided by CARPHA and endorsed by the CARICOM ministers of health.  It is not intended to replace already established national regulatory authorities, but rather to augment and support them.  It will also coordinate reporting and analysis on medicine safety and quality issues within CARICOM.