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A regulatory network was today started in WHO South-East Asia Region with an aim to guarantee access to high-quality medical products that can protect, diagnose and treat diseases. The South East Asia Regulatory Network (SEARN) will enhance information sharing, collaboration and convergence of regulatory practices across the region, WHO South-East Asia Regional Office (SEARO) said. The network was initiated by WHO South-East Asia Region member countries, including India. "Access to high-quality medical products is a matter of life and death for everyone. The coming together of the region's regulatory agencies marks a watershed moment that will ensure medical products produced and sold in the region do exactly what they are supposed to. "This will benefit the vulnerable in particular who are often pushed into poverty when paying for low-quality or unsafe products.
It will also enhance our ability to effectively tackle health security threats such as antimicrobial resistance and tuberculosis which are exacerbated by ineffective drugs that breed resistance," said Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director for WHO SEAR. WHO said the presence of poor quality medical products in the market is the result of limited regulatory capacity to enforce best practices needed to develop, produce and distribute them. While many regulatory authorities in the region lack sufficient technical capacity, staff and resources to perform effectively, even well-resourced authorities are hard-pressed to thoroughly evaluate all new products and enforce existing regulations. "The new South-East Asia Regulatory Network aims to change that," WHO said, while terming it a "path-breaking" initiative. "As a major producer of medical products, India is very much looking forward to SEARN's full implementation of planned activities. By working together to increase regulatory capacity SEARN will ensure that only products of a high standard can get to the markets we are supplying. "SEARN will also help to improve convergence towards good regulatory practices in the region," a WHO statement quoting G N Singh, the Drugs Controller General of India, Central Drugs Standard Control Organization, said. WHO South-East Asia Region comprises Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste.
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