APLMA team with the Ministry of Interior’s Cambodian Counter Counterfeit Committee (CCCC), led by General Sophana Meach (middle)
Over the last fifteen years, countries in Asia and the Pacific have made significant progress towards the goal of a region free of malaria by 2030. According to WHO figures, the number of people affected by malaria in the region has been halved and deaths from the disease have dropped by 78% since 2010.
However, over 200 million people in the region still remain at risk of contracting the disease. A recent study published in The Lancet shows that the drug-resistant strain of malaria, that spread across Cambodia in 2008-13, causing delayed clearance of malaria parasites, has evolved genetically and is now even more resistant to currently available medicines. If not urgently addressed, drug resistance will spread into neighbouring countries.
Substandard and falsified (SF) drugs, medicines that contain insufficient amounts of active ingredient, trigger and promote antimalarial drug-resistance and jeopardize malaria elimination efforts. When malaria is not treated effectively, people continue to remain at risk of infection.
Cambodia has taken leadership and maintains a strong commitment in addressing the issue of SF drugs. By convening the 2018 Phnom Penh Conference on Falsified and Substandard Medicines, the Government of Cambodia provided a unique opportunity for countries in the Mekong region to engage on tackling this critical challenge and to reiterate the importance of ensuring access to high-quality health products.
Since this conference, APLMA has been active in engaging with and supporting the Ministry of Interior’s Cambodian Counter Counterfeit Committee (CCCC), led by General Sophana Meach. The CCCC is committed to and has been at the forefront of efforts to curb the circulation of falsified and substandard products in the country.
In this context, we, at APLMA, believe that there is a unique opportunity to continue to build on the progress made so far and work collectively with the Ministry of Interior’s CCCC in its efforts to address this looming threat. Cambodia’s success in tackling this issue can serve as a useful example for other countries in the region.
Reaching regional malaria elimination targets and safeguarding the region against SFs requires a ‘Whole-of-Government’ approach. At APLMA, we are committed to accelerating access to quality malaria commodities, which will bring us closer to realisation of the 2030 goal.
Using malaria as an entry point, APLMA will continue to advocate for cross-sectoral collaboration, with the Ministry of Health, to improve quality monitoring of medicines. APLMA will also support CCCC’s efforts in Cambodia by bringing together and brokering working relationships with partners who are actively working in this space.
Commitment and collective actions to ensure that every malaria patient receives high-quality treatment will help us strengthen regional health security and protect lives.