Bringing regulators, national malaria programs and global health partners together to improve access to innovative vector control products

Published: 12, November 2019

#RegulatorsForVC: Participants at the VCAP Workshop in Hanoi, Vietnam.

A November 2019 workshop in Hanoi convened by the Vector Control Platform in Asia Pacific (VCAP), co-led by Unitaid and APLMA, brought together representatives from Ministries of Health, Agriculture and Environment from 9 countries in Asia Pacific as well as regional and global health partners –including the World Health Organization (WHO), Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Innovative Vector Control Consortium (IVCC). The workshop was designed to build cross-ministerial and regulatory system support to introduce innovative vector control (VC) products needed to eliminate malaria by 2030. 

VCAP aims to promote access to innovative vector control products with potential to contribute to malaria elimination targets in Asia Pacific. The 7-8th November 2019 VCAP Workshop in Hanoi follows the first VCAP meeting which was organized in conjunction with Malaria Week in Bangkok April 2019. 

Dr. Tran Thanh Duong, Director of Vietnam’s National Institute of Malariology, Parasitology and Entomology (NIMPE), opened the workshop by stating “regulatory systems must be strengthened to enable communities at risk to access innovative vector control products in time to achieve elimination targets.” 

Country-specific presentations by Singapore, Thailand and Cambodia provided an overview of the regulation processes for vector control products in their respective countries. They highlighted the diverse range of regulatory practices in the region for vector control products and described challenges and opportunities for efficient regulation. Country discussions also stressed on the benefits of cross-Ministry collaboration to identify opportunities to accelerate introduction of new vector control products needed to eliminate malaria by 2030 in Asia Pacific. 

The workshop continued with a series of working sessions on the WHO Prequalification (WHO-PQ) process for vector control tools. Representatives from the WHO Prequalification for Vector Control team introduced the prequalification review process, to help national regulators of vector control understand global practices related to assessing the quality, safety and efficacy of public health vector control tools.  The WHO-PQ training component of the workshop was designed to address a gap identified during the VCAP initiation meetings and in the IVCC regulatory study, i.e. a need for more clarity about the new PQ process among regulators in the region. 

The workshop saw active participation and engagement of country representatives from Ministries of Health, Agriculture and Environment. Regulators discussed how the WHO prequalification process could be utilised by countries to support their assessments. There were also discussions on mechanisms to streamline regulatory processes in countries, such as waiving the need for in-country product testing if already evaluated in a similar country context or though WHO-PQ: fast-tracking regulatory processes for high priority vector control products; and a harmonized regional regulatory process.

As part of the workshop, IVCC also launched the publication of three new landscape studies for vector control products in Asia Pacific. The technical, regulatory and market access landscape studies were supported by a five-year grant to IVCC from the Australia Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to develop and disseminate vector control technologies for malaria and other vector-borne diseases in the Indo-Pacific region.

As part of the next steps that emerged from the workshop, VCAP will form a network of vector control regulators to facilitate focused discussions and information exchange. VCAP is also in the process of developing a website which will act as a platform for information sharing and interaction between various vector control stakeholders.  

Key learnings from the workshop will be discussed with a broader group of vector control stakeholders such as disease programs, regulators, manufacturers and global health partners committed to eliminating malaria in Asia Pacific, during the next VCAP meeting expected in conjunction with APLMA Senior Officials Meeting in Hanoi in May 2020.

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