Strengthening countries’ pharmaceutical systems: a year in review

WHO/Sergey Volkov.

The WHO Regional Office for Europe supports Member States in providing people with sustainable access to essential and affordable quality medicines and medical products.

In 2016 the work of WHO/Europe contributed to strengthening countries’ pharmaceutical systems through technical advice on regulation of medicines and medical devices and support to national regulatory authorities in the Commonwealth of Independent States, selection and responsible use of medicines, development or revision of national pharmaceutical policies, expanding the use of health technology assessment, developing medicine pricing and reimbursement policies, and providing a forum for sharing country experiences relating to strategic procurement and supply chain management.

A few highlights of technical and policy support to countries are listed below.

  • In Estonia, WHO/Europe supported a study to identify possible barriers to increasing the availability of medicines and suggested options to overcome these. A national policy consultation was also organized.
  • In Kyrgyzstan, WHO/Europe has been working with the Ministry of Health to assist with the reform and regulation of the national pharmaceutical sector. WHO/Europe also provided technical assistance towards updating the national essential medicines list.
  • At the request of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Moldova, WHO/Europe supported the country’s move to align its pharmaceutical legislation and practice with the respective EU legislation. WHO/Europe also supported the Republic of Moldova in increasing access to new hepatitis C medicines.
  • In the last two years, WHO and partners have consulted with the Ministry of Health in Ukraine on revising the processes and systems for the selection, financing, procurement and use of medicines in the country. Through its Health Technologies and Pharmaceuticals programme, WHO/Europe supported and provided advice on the development of the national medicines policy.
  • In 2016, WHO/Europe provided support for the development of an outpatient medical devices reimbursement scheme in Albania.
  • Technical assistance was provided by WHO/Europe to develop health technology assessment capacity in Greece.
  • In the Russian Federation, WHO/Europe provided support with assessment of the national regulatory system, to ensure that pharmaceuticals for public distribution are evaluated and meet international standards of quality and safety.
  • WHO/Europe also assisted the National Medicine Regulatory Authority in Tajikistan and Turkmenistan in the implementation of the WHO certification scheme on the quality of pharmaceutical products.

WHO/Europe will continue to work closely with countries in these important areas in the coming year. The topic of improving access to medicines in the WHO European Region is on the agenda for the 67th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe, to be held in September 2017 in Budapest, Hungary.