Training pharmacists in the Global South is a top public-health priority that the Fondation Pierre Fabre has chosen to support over the long term, doing so in collaboration with the health authorities in the countries to which it channels funding and the French and universities and professors that provide the training.
On 11 December 2019, in Vietnam’s capital of Hanoi, the students of the sixth and final Master Mékong Pharma class were awarded their degrees and a new cooperation programme was announced. To mark the occasion, a special presentation was made on the pharmacist’s role in drug quality assurance, with university partners, the graduates, the French Embassy in Vietnam, the Agence Universitaire pour la Francophonie (AUF) and the Fondation Pierre Fabre in attendance.
The graduation ceremony for the students of the sixth and final Master Mékong Pharma class was held at the University of Pharmacy in Hanoi, with the students receiving their French Master 2 degrees. This ceremony marks the end of this post-graduate training programme in pharmaceutical sciences, through which 133 specialists received training, helping forge a network of drug professionals in South-East Asia. This event was the chance to reunite all the Master Mékong Pharma alumni, to remind authorities of the importance of giving pharmaceutical professionals top-level training in the field of pharmaceutical sciences to ensure people have access to quality medicines both nationally and internationally, and to unveil the new Mékong Pharma Network cooperation programme.
The graduation ceremony, presided over by the reprensentatives of Ambassador of France in Hanoi, of the Deputy Minister of Health, Mr Truong Son Nguyen, was co-hosted by the Fondation Pierre Fabre and the University of Pharmacy of Hanoi. There were many guests at the event: representatives of the French and Asian partner universities, the alumni, the future graduates and their families, training supervisors, representatives of public and private entities serving the medicine sector in the sub-region and others from the French cooperation. This graduation is the final event of an original training programme for drug specialists in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, from which 133 professionals have graduated with a Master’s degree since the programme began in 2012 through a partnership involving four Asian universities and four French universities.
Introduction of a new cooperation programme
The day’s second highlight was the signing of the Mékong Pharma Network agreement for a new cooperation programme between the University of Health Sciences of Cambodia (UHSC), the University of Health Sciences of Laos (UHSL), the Hanoi University of Pharmacy (HUP), the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Ho Chi Minh City (UMP), the Agence Universitaire pour la Francophonie (AUF) and the Fondation Pierre Fabre.
The Mékong Pharma Network is a regional programme that will begin in 2020 for a five-year period. This continuing education for Asian instructors will facilitate skills- and knowledge-sharing in pharmaceutical sciences. These educators will go on to offer high-level training to future pharmacists that can ensure medication quality at public or private institutions. This programme will also promote South-South cooperation, as there are plans to bring together Asian and African pharmacists at seminars.
The programme will be a source of specialised seminars that meet the specific needs of educators and universities in priority pharmaceutical disciplines for the countries concerned, targeting their most important public-health issues. It includes educational sessions at the various universities, seminars at the Foundation’s headquarters in Lavaur, France, residencies in French university scientific laboratories and support for collaborative research projects. Scientific experts from the academic world – including Toulouse III Paul Sabatier, Paris Descartes and Angers universities – and the industry will contribute to the seminars.
Lastly, on the afternoon of 11 December, the presentation on the pharmacist’s role in drug quality assurance featured the research work of three lecturers practicing in South-East Asia:
- Substandard and Counterfeit Drugs: Dr Céline Caillet, Medicine Quality Group, Laos-Oxford University-Mahosot-Wellcome Trust Research Unit (LOMWRU) & Infectious Diseases Data Observatory,
- The role of the Vietnamese National Pharmacopoeia and Formulary Centre in ensuring drug quality: Ms Thi Thu Hang Luc, Director of the Vietnamese Pharmacopoeia and Formulary Centre.
- Digital Health and the Pharmacist: Dr Boonchai Kijsanayotin, Chairman of the Asian e-Health International Network.