Viet Nam and Cambodia Laboratory Staff shine light on importance of regional collaboration

The National Institute of Drug Quality Control (NIDQC) in Vietnam hosted a delegation from the Cambodian National Health Products Quality Control Center (NHQC) last week in Ha Noi. The NIDQC has been an accredited laboratory according to International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 17025 standard since 2001and a WHO pre-qualified Quality Control Laboratory since 2008. It is regarded as a regional center of excellence and has been granted many noble awards for safe guarding the quality of medicines to protect people’s health in the past 60 years, making it an ideal place for the Cambodian NHQC team to learn and advance their own laboratory practices, as they strive towards their own ISO accreditation next year. This visit also incentivized Cambodia’s NHQC to aim for the WHO prequalification as a future goal, by observing the lessons learned from the path Vietnam’s NIDQC took. When comparing NHQC of Cambodia with NIDQC of Viet Nam, the Cambodian laboratory staff learned that Vietnam has more human resource capacities, and better documentation practices and management. These, along with the NIDQC of Viet Nam’s completed criteria for accreditation are the skills that Cambodia is aiming to gain to begin the process of accreditation, improvement and capacity building for their own lab. After learning and visiting the NIDQC site, the Cambodian laboratory realized some areas they need to improve to fulfill their aims for ISO and WHO accreditation such as internal calibration service and microbiology laboratory management practice improvement, internal audit/mock audit capacity building and reference substance capacity development. Cambodia will need review and update the QMS*, SOP*, Procedure* and practices related to the experiences from Vietnam.

Staff of the National Institute of Drug Quality Control (NIDQC) in Vietnam and Cambodian National Health Products Quality Control Center (NHQC) attended the training

The NHQC visit was facilitated by the WHO “Fellowship Programme”, which serves to enhance the collaboration between the host and visiting institutions as well as to promote opportunities for learning and knowledge sharing. Cambodia’s NHQC has a vision to gain reputation as an internationally respected center of excellence. Their mission is to increase the protection of consumers by regulating therapeutic products and minimizing risks from medicines, medical devices, cosmetics and food products. Their experience highlights the value and importance of peer learning through the WHO Fellowship Programme and working together with a neighboring country to accomplish objectives and facilitate progress in public health. Travelling to Vietnam’s accredited laboratory was key in the hands-on learning process as the Cambodian staff were able to see first-hand the success but also the challenges of the ISO accreditation and regulations. This south-south cooperation strengthened the bond between the two laboratories.

"The NHQC value and appreciate the host NIDQC of Vietnam, WHO regional, WHO in Vietnam, and WHO in Cambodia to support and facilitate on our team visit, we expect that the program will continue to sustain and harmonize in region for strongly combating the substandard or poor quality of medicines, medical device, cosmetic and food in our region."

Dr Tep Keila, Director of National Health Products Quality Control Center, Cambodia

“After exchanging information and experience on laboratory management we can improve the capacity of both sides including the host and the guest quality control institutions. Thank you very much WHO regional and national offices for giving us a chance of south-south cooperation!
I hope the cooperation between Mekong delta region Nations will be more stable and efficient.”
– A/Prof. Doan Cao Son Ph.D., Director of NIDQC, Viet Nam.

*QMS: Quality Management System
*SOP: Standards Operation Procedure
*Procedure: Laboratories technical procedure