Bandar Seri Begawan - The Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health, Dr Hjh Norlila binti Dato Paduka Hj Abdul Jalil, said that harmonisation is necessary in order to create a commonly accepted standard of regulation to cope with the wide diversity of traditional medicinal products in the Asean region, during the opening ceremony of the 18th Meeting of the Traditional Medicines and Health Supplements Product Working Group (TMHS PWG) And its Related Meetings at the Rizqun International Hotel last night.
She emphasised that the harmonisation initiative is in line with the World Health Organization's (WHO) recognition of the use of traditional medicines to advance the cause of primary healthcare and universal access to health services for the people.
In 'recognising the significance of the WHO Regional Strategy for Traditional Medicines in the Western Pacific Region, the ministry has also established the Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine Unit under the Department of Medical Services, which is responsible to look into the integration of traditional practices into the healthcare system as one of the overarching objectives of universal access to health.
Acknowledging the aspiration of the Product Working Group whereby their efforts would ultimately lead to the strengthening of the regulatory control of traditional medicines, she said that their endeavour will bring everyone a step closer towards the realisation of the leaders' visions of a single Asean Economic Community.
"The fulfillment of the mandate of the working group will facilitate trade and spur the growth of high quality and safe traditional medicines and health supplements industries in the region," she said.
Meanwhile, Mrs Marie Tham, the Chair of the TMHS PWG, emphasised the need for regulators to engage with the industry and understand their perspectives collectively.
"I believe with the support and commitment of the stakeholders, the meeting will produce a fruitful conclusion," she said.
The TMHS PWG was established in 2004 as one of the 11 sectoral bodies under the Asean Consultative Committee on Standards and Quality (ACCSQ). It has been mandated to develop a harmonisation scheme on the regulatory and technical requirements for placement of traditional medicine and health supplement products traded in Asean.
A total of 127 participants are attending the meeting - which began on November 12 and ends on November 16 - comprised of delegates and observers from Asean member states, Asean Secretariat and industry representatives from the Asean Alliance of Health Supplement Association (AAHSA) and the Asean Association of Traditional Medicine Industry (AATMI).
--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin